There are, it seems, several strong proponents for a Hen Harrier brood management scheme, which seem to number the GWCT, BASC, the Moorland Association, the National Gamekeepers Organisation and the Hawk and Owl Trust.
There are some people who are dead against the very idea of a brood management scheme, although not, as best I can tell, any major organisations, but I might be wrong.
In the middle (which isn’t necessarily the best place to be – but it is very British) are the RSPB and the North England Raptor Forum and myself (for what it’s worth). We seem to be in the position of not really liking the idea of meddling with Hen Harrier nests but would be prepared to consider such an unpalatable scheme if we were convinced that it would (not could, would) do enough good for Hen Harriers (an almost-extinct breeding species in England).
It’s easy to see how a brood management scheme, depending on what it might look like, could be good for grouse shooters: if Hen Harrier chicks were taken off grouse moors then feasibly losses of Red Grouse chicks would be reduced and there could be more to shoot (although GWCT seem to think that the Langholm study in progress is a failure so there is no reason to believe that vegetarian Hen Harriers would allow grouse shooting to be carried out there). But it would depend on the scheme. So it is easy to see what GWCT, BASC, Moorland Association and NGO get out of it, but HOT?
It really is up to the proponents to explain to everyone else, particularly the people in the middle like me, how this scheme would be good for Hen Harriers. Andrew Gilruth of the GWCT failed in this regard in comments on this blog today. The Hawk and Owl Trust, whose Chair has got them into the position (bizarrely) of being prominent advocates for such a scheme, completely failed to explain it on their website (see here). Their credibility on the subject is currently rather low.
So the offer is open to anyone, from anywhere, to have a Guest Blog which explains the scheme and how it will work. This blog should answer questions like:
- who pays for it?
- how much does it cost?
- what happens to the Hen Harrier eggs/chicks/adults?
- when would it start?
- who would do it?
- what happens if it succeeds and Hen Harrier numbers increase considerably?
- would Hen Harrier numbers be capped in this scheme? If so, at what level?
- how would it comply with domestic and EU wildlife legislation?
You may be able to suggest some other important questions. I’m not looking for excessive detail but if the proposers of the scheme can’t between them sketch out a convincing explanation of what the scheme is and how it will work then they have clearly been wasting Defra’s time and that of the rest of us.
It would be surprising if Defra went ahead with a scheme whose proponents couldn’t make a decent attempt to answer these questions, so let’s hear the answers, please. GWCT? Hawk and Owl Trust? Moorland Association? Anyone?
By the way, if anyone has been telling Defra that this scheme has widespread public support then that is clearly untrue. Do Defra Ministers want to start another storm of protest just before a general election? They’d have to be pretty desperate to please their mates, or pretty sure of their ground, before they would do such a thing.