Saturday, 16 January 2016

England: Hen Harrier Joint Action Plan launched

The Hen Harrier Joint Action Plan was launched by Defra, on 14 January.

The plan was developed by Defra in conjunction with the RSPB, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Moorland Association, National Gamekeepers Organisation, and National Parks UK.  Natural England will lead on the six point plan, working with the partner organisations to: 
  • Monitor hen harrier numbers in England and the UK via satellite tagging and tracking;
  • Share best practice with land managers and gamekeepers, encouraging the provision of food for birds of prey;
  • Work closely with the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG) to analyse intelligence on persecution and deliver more effective enforcement and deterrence measures;
  • Monitor and protect nests and winter roosts from disturbance and destruction;
  • Work with landowners to reintroduce hen harriers to suitable areas in the South of England;
  • Scope out feasibility for trialling brood management.
Other documents are:
It is interesting to note that the Joint Action Plan contains details of the most recent full survey of the UK population of Hen harriers, which was carried out in 2010 .  This found 633 territorial pairs in the UK, and estimated 505 pairs in Scotland; 57 in Wales and 12 in England. The Plan states that "it is reasonable to conclude that there should be more pairs in England than currently exist".
For those who have not been following the development of the Plan, the Guardian article from 14 January provides a good overview.

I welcome the publication of this Plan and the objective approach it offers.  I encourage the partners to work hard to implement it  fully.  Yes, this is sensitive territory but we should not let the arguments be fuelled by self-interest.  

There has been a lot of discussion around introducing a brood management scheme, and I draw your attention to the details of Action 6 on page 11 of the Joint Action Plan, which explains this.  No lethal control is proposed and as someone without direct involvement in this debate, I take the view that if brood management would help to defuse the tension around Hen harriers I think this approach should be trialled.  I am sure there are different views and I would be delighted for the errors of my position to be pointed out - use the comment form below.

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