So much is written about Hen Harriers and upland points. It’s good to speak in regards to the positives, however the article that Patrick Barkham wrote for the Guardian on the 4 December 2021 was an odd piece certainly. I might have been much less shocked had the article been written by the cheerleaders for grouse taking pictures, the Moorland Affiliation.
If an impartial journalist is to write down about these points, significantly if they’re to give attention to an space like Nidderdale which has an inventory of latest unsolved raptor crimes longer than my arm, one would possibly count on the journalist to talk to a variety of sources. Nevertheless, Patrick’s article reads like a puff piece for grouse taking pictures, and extra worryingly takes at face worth some fairly unusual assertions by Pure England workers.
I really feel that I would like to write down this as I don’t suppose that it’s proper that Pure England get a free cross to re-write historical past, and to disregard the problems that proceed to suppress England’s Hen Harrier inhabitants and that blight England’s uplands the place Purple Grouse are shot for enjoyable.
Let’s begin with Betty. Betty was a satellite tv for pc tagged Hen Harrier that was discovered lifeless in 2012 on the Swinton property. Exams confirmed that she had been shot, however that the shot had not instantly killed her. She may have been shot wherever (probably close to to the place she was discovered) earlier than succumbing to her wounds. Patrick wrote “Murphy mentioned Betty had been shot away from the property earlier than flying on to it”. Did Patrick ask what proof Stephen Murphy has to again up this declare?
The one method Stephen can declare that is if he has been advised the place Betty was shot. Is that the case?
Within the article that Nationwide Geographic printed on Hen Harriers in October 2021 (see right here – it’s an excellent learn), Matt Hagan, the Yorkshire Police Inspector, the chair of the Raptor Precedence Persecution Supply Group, acknowledged that he didn’t know of a single member of the taking pictures group having offered info to the police a couple of single raptor crime.
Bearing this in thoughts I think that it’s extremely unlikely that Stephen Murphy has been advised the place Betty was shot and by whom (and if he had been advised, wouldn’t he have handed this info on to the police?), so why does he make this declare? And why does Patrick not query this declare?
Stephen Murphy is then quoted as saying that “What’s right here is nearly optimum circumstances for hen harriers to breed effectively,” adopted by “proof that unlawful persecution is lessening on grouse moors just isn’t breeding success (which may be attributable to an excellent 12 months for voles, a favorite prey) however the survival of long-lived satellite-tagged birds”.
This assertion would seem to contradict Pure England’s official place. In a press release by Dave Slater, posted on 13 August 2021 he mentioned “Unlawful persecution on land managed for grouse taking pictures stays the primary risk to the restoration of Hen Harriers. Pure England is evident that profitable breeding seasons, like this one, can not result in a sustained inhabitants restoration if survival continues to be impacted by unlawful persecution and deliberate disturbance (see here).
I agree that higher over-winter survival could possibly be proof that unlawful persecution is lessening (and I’ll come again thus far under), however certainly if the breeding circumstances are optimum then the numbers of profitable breeding makes an attempt will enhance 12 months on 12 months? Did Patrick ask Stephen Murphy whether or not the variety of Hen Harriers breeding within the Nidderdale space had elevated over the previous few years? Doesn’t Stephen Murphy have any remark about this?
The reason being that these numbers haven’t elevated. They’re caught at two nests, mysteriously and coincidentally on the quantity at which brood meddling may be triggered. Alarm bells must be flashing for anybody concerned with Hen Harriers and I can not perceive fairly why Stephen Murphy would ignore this.
And again to the survival of satellite-tagged birds. One may declare that with some satellite tv for pc tagged birds surviving longer, unlawful persecution is lessening. However that declare turns into rather less spectacular when one is aware of that NE are informing estates the place their satellite-tagged birds are. While we must always welcome these birds surviving longer, all it actually tells us is that Pure England’s satellite-tagged birds, that are a small subset of the inhabitants, are surviving longer when estates are advised the place they’re.
That’s hardly a ringing endorsement of a change in attitudes, hardly a long-term resolution for Hen Harrier survival, and never precisely cutting-edge conservation science.
And what about untagged birds? Does England’s breeding inhabitants include plenty of untagged birds which were born in England and have survived the winter? The reply to that isn’t actually.
Change is desperately wanted within the uplands, however this text demonstrates that any change that Pure England would possibly impact is hamstrung by its makes an attempt to butter up grouse shooters. It’s clear that a few of Pure England’s employees proceed to disregard the rationale why the Hen Harrier inhabitants is so low and nonetheless being supressed (crime dedicated to help folks taking pictures grouse). They proceed to cherry-pick knowledge to swimsuit their agenda. Throughout the final eighteen months they’ve suppressed details about crimes (see right here), and have been inept in relation to investigating potential crimes in opposition to Hen Harriers (see right here) and upholding the regulation (see right here). One would possibly virtually go as far as to ask whether or not we’re a case of regulatory seize.
Our Hen Harriers and the English uplands deserve higher, and till somebody will get a grip of Pure England’s Hen Harrier work Pure England can solely be seen as a part of the issue, fairly than as an agent of constructive change.
And for Patrick Barkham, a author who I love, and the Guardian to publish an article that ignores all of those issues is disappointing to place it mildly.
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