A question for Natural England

Photo: Kositoes via wikimedia commons
Photo: Kositoes via wikimedia commons

Our studies of the movements of satellite tagged birds are continuing, as they are yielding much useful information on the movements, habitat use, and ecology of Hen Harriers. But they are also raising questions about their ultimate fate. We have, for instance, been looking into the disappearance of six Hen Harriers at an autumn roost known to us in the northern uplands. The anecdotal evidence of deliberate persecution given to us in confidence by a local land manager correlates with the information provided by the last known location of a number of birds that were being radio-tracked by project staff.‘ from A Future for the Hen Harrier in England published by Natural England in 2008.

That was in 2008 – the satellite-tagging of Hen harriers started some time before that.

Simple question, NE – when are these results going to be published in full?

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11 Replies to “A question for Natural England”

  1. Hi Mark, Here's a quote from an NE employee. "It's like we are behind glass and nobody can hear us shouting" NE have been gagged on many matters and people are naturally scared of losing their jobs if they speak out. Meanwhile the likes of 'Songbird Survival' are being promoted by Waitrose. It's a sickening situation. I'm not sure what colour this government is, but it certainly isn't green!

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  2. You have to go to the 'Skydancer' talks to get this answer! Should I tell you or will several thousand of you actually go to the talks!

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  3. You often hear people saying we need the younger generation interested......in wildlife, birdwatching, and all sorts of outdoor things - and then you get someone going out to shoot wild boar and saying don't shoot elephants!
    What an example........
    Until shooting and other bloodsports are finally illegal we'll see little change!

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  4. Well done Mark and Chrissie maybe in time you will have some success and Hen Harriers will breed in England in reasonable numbers. What is amazing is that very very few people even supposedly bird friendly people(at least I used to believe rspb members were bird friendly)care about Hen Harriers,what a sad state of affairs.Maybe top staff at rspb know the membership in general do not care about Hen Harrier persecution and if that is their reason for not pushing things that would help Hen Harriers it is time they persuaded them that this bird is worth the effort to get a English foothold.
    Was in trouble with rspb moderaters for saying "they were poncing around with such as Hedgehog houses rather than Hen Harrier persecution".
    Guess I should have been more P C and substituted messing instead of poncing,guess that would have been acceptable to them but must have the same meaning surely.
    What is sad about it is that they do not get the fact that it would be more important to do something genuine for the Hen Harrier rather than give me a silly warning.

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    1. Not! just "A question for Natural England".

      From reading the question and experiencing similar issues myself regarding both gagging and misguided secrecy by trustees.

      Comments: "NE have been gagged on many matters"
      "People are naturally scared of losing their jobs if they speak out"
      "In trouble with RSPB moderators for saying "they were poncing around with such as Hedgehog houses rather than Hen Harrier persecution"
      Personal experience of volunteering for three NGO's, was being told:-
      "never again to say anything publicly that might upset one of their Partners"
      Having serious management issues ignored to protect the organization from bad publicity.
      Being removed from committee and as a volunteer for speaking out!

      It not only worries me but also raises questions in my mind at least about the ability of some wildlife organizations to adequately protect our British wildlife.
      Are these isolated instances?
      Is 'Gagging' and internal 'Protection' a widespread issue within both government organizations & NGO's?
      Might these issue also suggest in part, one reason for the continuing absence of breeding 'Skydancers' in England.

      Never mind ending raptor persecution Mark!
      If 'Waitrose' speaks out where NE employees fear to tread, then I fear for the future for wildlife protection in the England?

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  5. I seem to remember someone called Mark suggesting a walk on Walshaw Moor some time this year. How about it, Mark?

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      1. I recall asking a question a while back about the upland moors being Open Access under CRoW Act and someone else mentioned that Natural England had survived because they were needed to implement this project.

        So, have they got some moves 'afoot' I wonder?

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  6. Surely Natural England should be obliged to release tracking data under FoI?

    How much bird tracking work is actually going on for raptors? Surely this is a means of securing some definitive evidence about how and where birds are disappearing and hence worthy of substantial investment. I would donate to any such project.

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  7. Hi Mark - Apologies for the delay responding! We intend to publish an analysis of remote tracking data once the wider PhD research of which it forms a part has been completed. We had hoped this would be during 2014 but it may not now be available until 2015.

    We expect the study to provide much new information about the movements and ranging behaviour of Hen Harriers in England, but it would be a mistake to think that the data will shed much light on the main causes of Hen Harrier mortality. For radio-tagged birds, locating a bird that has died is dependent on there being someone in the vicinity at the time. Given the vast areas involved and the limited range of the tags this is usually not possible. The satellite tags which we now use usually provide good quality data over regular intervals for a day or two, but then have a downtime of a day or more when the battery is recharging and no information is received. For this reason the final transmission received from each tag does not necessarily reveal the site at which the bird has died and bodies are rarely recovered.

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