Labour MP appears to welcome Hen Harrier decline

Labour MP Kate Hoey, former Chair of the Countryside Alliance, appears to be happy about the decline in numbers of Hen Harriers in her native Northern Ireland and seems to think that it results in more Curlews and Ring Ousels.

The usual line from the shooting community is to shed crocodile tears when Hen Harriers decline or are absent but Ms Hoey sees some strange silver lining.  It is often a bit difficult to understand what Ms Hoey is on about, but in this case it is almost impossible.

The RSPB and NI Raptor Study Group agree that the decline in Hen Harriers in Northern Ireland is likely to be due to a combination of habitat change, persecution and local events such as fires.

Does Ms Hoey think that Hen Harriers are gobbling up Curlews and Ring Ousels and that a Hen Harrier decline will help their prey species? Well it’s true that Curlew chicks and Ring Ousels have been eaten by Hen Harriers but they certainly aren’t major prey items.  And a decline in Hen Harriers would not lead to an increase in the numbers of either of these species.  So that doesn’t make any sense.

It couldn’t be, could it? Surely it couldn’t be that Ms Hoey knows that Hen Harriers are illegally persecuted in the UK on grouse moors (of which there are relatively few in NI) and that the Countryside Alliance line is that grouse moors are great for Ring Ousels and Curlews – which often they are (and they’d be great for Hen Harriers too if gamekeepers didn’t kill them)? Ms Hoey isn’t saying that whatever is bad for Hen Harriers is good for everything else is she? She seems to be.

Just another case of ‘a real country person’ having a knee-jerk ill-informed and ecologically-illiterate view?  Maybe that’s unfair – perhaps Ms Hoey could explain herself.


I assume that Ms Hoey won’t be attending a Hen Harrier Day event the weekend after next – her nearest would be at Rainham Marshes RSPB nature reserve where she could have a chat with Chris Packham – where is your nearest event?

And I’m guessing she won’t be signing up to Findlay Wilde’s thunderclap – unlike two, so far, of her Labour MP colleagues.

Here are Ring Ousels and Hen Harriers not doing so well on grouse moors…









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15 Replies to “Labour MP appears to welcome Hen Harrier decline”

  1. I can't believe a Labour MP is appearing to be justifying Hen Harrier persecution. That is not acceptable. I'm disgusted. Labour better do something about it.

  2. How on earth she is even a member of the Labour party is beyond belief.But she does demonstrate that ignorance is bliss.

  3. I've tweeted this to SERA (the Labour Environmental group) and my new Labour MP who's a member of that organisation. I doubt that I'll get any response but I'll let you know if I do.

    1. You should have tweeted her the photo of the Ring Ouzel in the trap, John. I would if I was on Twitter.

  4. What an utter embarrassment Kate Hoey is. What on earth is she doing in the Labour Party?

    There's been a lot of rubbish talked about people being deselected but she really does deserve it.

  5. I realise I am in a minority here as I am not a Labour voter. I am perturbed yet not totally surprised by Kate Hoey's comments as she is also pro-hunting and a bit of a countryside policy maverick within the Labour ranks. It's a bit alarming though when the tolerance of such mavericks comes across as so low (hence the "sack her" comments so far - one of many examples of the "you're with us or get out" intolerance of the new/old "tolerant" left ). I mean, haven't you recently elected a leader who defied the party whip over 400 times in his Parliamentary career? A bit of "maverick-ism" doesn't seem to have done him much harm - not for the moment at least.

    But you are all missing the main point Mark is making. The Findlay Wilde Thunderclap has been signed by TWO Labour MP's. Wow! That's really going to get the supposed friend of the landowner Tory party quaking in their green welly boots. Once again the apathy and indeed insolence towards all in rural areas shown by the Labour Party is plain for all to see and yet somehow most here still seem to think they are best placed to resolve this and many other rural environmental issues.

    It's almost enough to start one thinking that this Ban Driven Grouse Shooting campaign, which I have endorsed each year, may have political motivations rather than seeking what is best, not only for the Hen Harrier, but for all our endangered species, and very much including the Curlew and Ring Ouzel.

    1. I am not sure that it is true to suggest that the prevailing view here is that the Labour Party is best best placed to resolve the raptor persecution issue (or if they are "best" it is only best of a poor bunch). It seems to me that there is considerable frustration at the Labour Party's lack of interest in wildlife conservation issues - exemplified by their almost complete failure to show up for the ban grouse shooting debate in Westmister Hall - and that frustration gets aired here quite often. Meanwhile hen barriers continue to be exterminated on the grouse moors...

    2. Shame on those dislikes on Richard Williams comment Labour has proven itself very little if any better on trying to stop Hen Harrier persecution than Tory's.
      Those dislikes just show that those people object to any reasonable other point of view.

  6. Like many politicians on all sides she is breathtakingly ignorant about ecology and predator prey relationships. That she takes the typical CA/MA etc line is hardly a surprise given her record but it is is still a shock to find a Labour MP supporting this line. I don't want Jeremy to sack her, technically he cannot but it would not be surprising if her local party were to deselect her or her constituents vote for somebody else, I would!

    1. 'but it would not be surprising if her local party were to deselect her..'

      I disagree - it would be truly remarkable. One of the many mysteries in the 2017 GE was the way Kate Hoey increased her majority despite the prominent role she played in the Leave campaign and the fact she represented a constituency with which was 78% remain. Despite being at odds with her constituents she barely made any attempt to disguise her joy the passing of the Article 50 Bill, punching the air in true swivel-eyed loon style. She was even said the following of Theresa May back at the start of year:

      "I like her style, when I watch PMQs now or when I see her particularly abroad at international events, I have to say I feel quite proud that she is the prime minister of the United Kingdom. What she's doing at the moment under very difficult circumstances I think [is]reasonable in terms of Brexit and how she's handled international events."


      Lots of political pundits predictec she would lose her seat to the LD's - how wrong they were! If she managed to increase her majority after all that then the notion that she might get deselected for a comment about the plight of a bird that most of her constituents will never have even heard of is most unlikely. And besides, she's very pally with Corbyn's brother and cronyism is every bit as bad in the Labour Party as it is in the Conservatives.

      I'm no fan of Kate Hoey but she's more honest about her views than most of the Labour front bench.

  7. We must remember that the masterminds behind the propaganda are conning their own supporters as well as the general public. You only need to visit the various Facebook and other blogs produced by these people to realise that we are dealing with highly devious campaigners who will invent any lie to promote their cause. They rely on their readership being ecologically illiterate, and in fact go at least one step further by alleging ignorance and corruption on our side. They also own vast tracts of land to carry out 'research and development,' and have much larger budgets to work with, aided by generous voluntary donations from their richer participants. The optical industry supplies both sides with equipment, but the shooting and firearms industries are unfortunately where the money counts. Despite having science on our side, this is truly a David v Goliath confrontation. A step in the right direction would be if Raptor Study Groups were more open and transparent, rather than regarding themselves as some sort of elite sector of ornithology. We seem to agree in principle that the information gathered during harrier monitoring be made available publicly, with the obvious caveat that actual nest locations remain confidential. However (in Scotland at least), even this general information is unavailable for local bird reports due to pointless secrecy and deliberate withholding of data. This was largely down to the decision made in setting up RSG area boundaries which do not tie in with traditional SOC recording areas. I believe we would achieve more support from the birdwatching community if the current approach was reformed to become not so exclusive.


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