Natural England hen harrier licences - GWCT response

Hen Harrier

When Defra released its plan to recover hen harriers in 2016, it had two success criteria: more hen harriers in England, and that “the harrier population coexists with local business interests and its presence contributes to a thriving rural economy”.

Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust research shows that, in some circumstances, hen harriers can make a grouse moor unsustainable in just a few years. This is why it is sensible that the plan included a trial of a well-understood raptor conservation tool, which should help hen harriers and red grouse thrive – in the interests of both.

The GWCT is part of Natural England’s working group that designed the brood management scheme trial. This non-lethal management scheme is intended to unlock conflict in the moorland conservation world by testing with land managers a practical approach to reducing harrier predation on grouse. Licences issued by Natural England will enable this trial to be carried out and assessed.

The trial is an important part of Defra’s six-point Hen Harrier Recovery Plan. We welcome this significant milestone and the active involvement of so many, including the Moorland Association, National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, University of Aberdeen, Hawk & Owl Trust and the International Centre for Birds of Prey.

Dr Adam Smith said: “The GWCT knows from its research that in certain circumstances hen harriers can make a grouse moor unsustainable. We believe it important the hen harrier recovery plan includes this practical trial of a well-understood raptor conservation tool, a brood management scheme. If successful, this should help hen harriers and red grouse thrive – in the interests of both, and of moorland.”

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Southern England reintroduction

at 11:35 on 17/01/2018 by Keith Cowieson

This is indeed encouraging news, and I wish all those involved the very best of luck in making this trial the success it deserves to be. Equally important will be the complementary Southern Reintroduction element of Defra's plan, hopefully also going to kick off this year. Establishing a south of England lowland breeding population would not only help meet Defra's 2 success criteria, but also establish an expanding reservoir of HHs from which to help populate other suitable breeding habitat in the south of England, Wales and elsewhere. I liken this to an 'ink spot' strategy, whereby expanding local populations of HHs will eventually join up and help restore the bird's historical distribution and population levels. Finally, it will be important for all those involved in game and wildlife management to bring pressure to bear, wherever necessary, to ensure that no illegal persecution of these graceful birds is allowed to derail Defra's plan.

Natural England Hen Harrier licences

at 9:31 on 17/01/2018 by Bryan Benn

I need to read through all the Natural England pdfs setting down the terms and conditions of the licences, but at first sight this is wonderful news. I thought the whole issue of brood management had stalled for reasons I won't bring up here! Now it looks like the process is going to be tested. And from a virtually zero base of Hen Harrier breeding in England, one thing it can't do, is to make the current situation worse. Can I please make a plea to the GWCT to use all of it's influence out on the moors to help this test see breeding Hen Harriers return in Engand. Although I hardly feel that will be necessary for an orgnisation that I feel are best placed, and have showed good support for brood management. One of the reasons I joined the GWCT a couple of years back. And if I am permitted to make the point, wouldn't it be good to see an element of predator control back on Langholm Moor (with landowners agreement of course), so that centre of excellence for Hen Harrier breeding can be maintained. And used as a release area for the products of the brood management. If my undertsanding of how that will work is still correct.

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