Hen har­rier ac­tion plan


BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Welcome - Louise Tickle

Brood man­age­ment scheme is given the go-ahead in north­ern Eng­land

Brood man­age­ment is an initiative that has aroused con­tro­versy amongst con­ser­va­tion­ists and seeks to re­duce the pre­da­tion of grouse chicks from moor­land, which is man­aged for shoot­ing. The li­cence al­lows hen har­rier eggs and chicks to be re­moved from nests: they will then be taken for hatch­ing or rais­ing in cap­tiv­ity be­fore the fledglings are rein­tro­duced to the wild.

Those in favour hope that if young birds are re­moved adult hen har­ri­ers will no longer need to catch large num­bers of grouse chicks nec­es­sary to feed their brood, so pre­serv­ing the shoot­ing on which large es­tates de­pend.

At Nat­u­ral Eng­land, which is­sued the li­cence, chair­man An­drew Sells says the trial will “al­low im­por­tant ev­i­dence to be gath­ered which, I sin­cerely hope, will lead to a self-sus­tain­ing and well-dis­persed breed­ing pop­u­la­tion of these beau­ti­ful birds across Eng­land.”

Amanda An­der­son, di­rec­tor of the Moor­land As­so­ci­a­tion wel­comed the li­cence, say­ing: “The Hen Har­rier Brood Man­age­ment Group has sought to pro­vide a pragmatic so­lu­tion to a proven preda­tor- prey con­flict while safe­guard­ing im­por­tant land use.”

Li­cence con­di­tions are strict: no eggs or ju­ve­niles may be taken un­less there are more than two nests within 10km of each other, and any clutch laid af­ter the first has been taken is pro­tected.

Nev­er­the­less, the RSPB says it is “im­pla­ca­bly op­posed”, calling the idea that the project would help hen har­ri­ers “a non­sense”.

“It is about fa­cil­i­tat­ing un­sus­tain­ably in­ten­sive land man­age­ment which is de­stroy­ing our up­lands,” the char­ity says. The RSPB’s con­ser­va­tion di­rec­tor Martin Harper blogged of his “deep dis­ap­point­ment” that the Gov­ern­ment’s first ac­tion since pub­lish­ing its 25-year ac­tion plan was the li­cence an­nounce­ment. It will, he wrote, “do noth­ing to ad­dress the pri­mary threat to hen har­ri­ers – il­le­gal killing.”

The Heads Up for Har­ri­ers initiative in Scot­land has put cam­eras on the nests of these birds to ob­tain in­ter­est­ing data.

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