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Moorland managers support the Hen Harrier cause

9th August 2017

Last week saw owners and managers of England’s grouse moors restate their support for the recovery of hen harriers.

Speaking ahead of Hen Harrier weekend starting tomorrow (Saturday August 5), Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association, said: “Moorland managers and landowners gave their enthusiastic support and co-operation to teams from Natural England and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority monitoring nesting hen harrier attempts this year.

“Hopes were high this spring when several birds lingered in the Cumbrian part of the National Park and started displaying. Two females laid eggs on the edge of a moor managed for grouse shooting.   The monitoring was undertaken with the close co-operation and support of local landowners, including the shooting estate, and residents. Unfortunately, neither nest was successful, with both attempts thought to have failed due to fox predation.

“Despite this disappointment, the first nesting attempts for 10 years in the National Park were very welcome and the collaborative efforts of those on the ground is testament to a commitment from land managers to see this wonderful species thrive again.

“These efforts were recognised by the chief executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, David Butterworth, who said: ‘The Authority is fully aware of all the issues surrounding hen harriers in the uplands, so it was really encouraging that the birds’ presence was welcomed by all stakeholders.  We would like to thank them all for their cooperation during the nesting period.  We hope that the enlightened attitude towards the presence of these birds is the start of a more positive outlook for this species, which will lead to the hen harrier returning as a regular breeding species within the Yorkshire Dales National Park’. We echo these sentiments.”

During the monitoring of the nesting attempts a plethora of wildlife using the moorland fringe areas was enjoyed; waders such as lapwing, curlew and the rare black grouse were observed, underlining the importance of the National Park for a holistic assemblage of breeding birds. Birds of prey including red kite, marsh and pallid harrier were also seen in the area as non-breeding birds. A successful nest of harriers would have been the cherry on the cake.

Anderson continued: “We welcome the highlighting of the hen harrier issue throughout Hen Harrier weekend and believe those managing the land must be a part of the solution.”

“Our support for the Hen Harrier Recovery Plan is unwavering and we eagerly await a decision on our joint application for a licence to instigate a brood management scheme trial of the Action Plan, which we believe would be another step in the right direction to improve the harrier population in the north of England.”

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Did You Know?

75% of of the world’s remaining heather moorland is found in Britain – but this area declined alarmingly over the latter part of the last century. The Moorland Association was set up in 1986 to coordinate the efforts of moorland owners and managers to halt this loss, particularly in England and Wales.

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