Marc’d down on Wemmergill

Hen Harrier Marc – last known fix. Image: RSPB

The news (RSPB blog, RPUK blog) of yet another disappeared Hen Harrier from the cohort of 2017 youngsters is not a great surprise. There aren’t that many left!

But the location is interesting – Wemmergill Moor.  Wemmergill Moor is a big-name grouse moor.  Until 2006, this moor, of 17,000 acres had been in the same ownership, that of the Bowes Lyon family (yes, that of the late Queen Mother) for 444 years.  In 2006 it was sold to an ex poultry farmer and pub-trade tycoon, Michael Cannon, for the not so paultry sum of £5.25m see here and here).

It is a moor of legend; on 20 August 1872 a party of 6 guns shot 2000 Red Grouse there, and bagged another 2,300 on 21 and 23 August.  In that season the total bag was 16,700 birds and in 2008 the bag had returned to 16,000 shot Red Grouse (at £75 each at commercial rates).  In 1895 Kaiser Wilhelm II shot grouse at Wemmergill and his foreign policy later led to quite a lot of shooting in the period 1914-18.

In more recent times, Wemmergill was the first grouse moor to agree a Moorland Management Plan with Natural England – and we know what a great success they are (see here, here, here for the Walshaw Moor version). The Wemmergill MMP is pretty dire in my opinion and thanks to the disappeared Marc bringing Wemmergill back to my attention I will be looking more carefully at it over the next few days. Guess what? The Wemmergill plan also involves a new track cutting through a blanket bog.

The grouse shooters’ Moll, Therese Coffey (see here), actually dressed up in tweed to go and squeeze Sphagnum on Wemmergill as pictured below and readers of this blog were kind enough to offer a range of captions for the image below (see here – some of them were very good (try the second one down) and some feel rather poignant with the news of Marc’s disappearance).

A grouse shooter’s moll and Defra minister. Photo: Natural England

There is a stench to the relationship between Defra and driven grouse shooting – an unsustainable hobby, underpinned by wildlife crime that not only is not criticised by the politicians who should be acting for the public, not properly regulated by the statutory agency whose job it is to do just that, but instead treated as a dear friend by the public servants who should be acting for the public good.

Remember, at the moment, in England, these are the bodies who would legislate for licensing and implement a licensing system under the RSPB’s preferred way forward. Can’t see it working myself, can you?  We’re much better off pressing for a ban to be delivered by a government of a different hue – sign Gavin Gamble’s e-petition here please.

And it’s this cosy relationship that means that NE will licence Hen Harrier chicks to be removed from grouse moors – and that’s why over 700 of you have contributed more than £21,000 (towards our overall target of £25k) in under 4 full days.  Thank you. But if you meant to donate and haven’t done so yet then now would be a good time to do so – click here to see the crowdfunding page and how to donate.  Thank you again!

We need #justice4henharriers






10 Replies to “Marc’d down on Wemmergill”

  1. Great polemic and appropriately scathing about the corrupt relationship Defra has with grouse moor owners under this government.

  2. Is it fair to associate the evident lack of fear of prosecution by the perpetrators of crime in our uplands with the equally evident chummy relationship of Therese Coffey with the Wemmergill and similar Estate owners?
    It certainly gives a nod to those in the criminal justice system and National parks how the government would like any suspected criminal acts to be handled (or mishandled).
    Why do we put up with it?

  3. That’s a worrying coincidence with Walshaw isn’t it ,a track in the plans through Blanket Bog which is only one of our most important of Upland Habitats ,which supposedly has the highest Protection awarded ! Thanks Mark for highlighting it.

  4. A picture is worth a thousand words so they say. Wouldn’t it be niece if Coffey was photographed on a grouse Moor with senior RSPB staff, Council Member or photographed with you Mark, discussing how to halt the illegal killing of Hen harriers.
    Once again the vested interests of this Government shine out on this “page”.
    Let’s hope the Scottish Government demonstrate a willingness, in the coming months, to take more measures to safeguard our moorland wildlife. They cannot do worse than this lot south of the boarder.

  5. What is clear is that the plan hatched by NE and the moor does not include provision for Hen Harriers.
    The plan ( seems to me to be based upon the industrialisation of the area and I can see no reason why NE should have cooperated in it’s production. The waffle within it, the “Shared outcomes,” the drainage for buried butts to be taken to a grip (not a water course) cannot fail to be seen for what it is.
    Now that it has been in operation for a few years, how does the disappearance of a hen harrier fit into NE’s shared outcomes? Quite well, I think.

  6. Mark makes a very good point about it being NE who would be primarily responsible for formulating and implementing any licensing scheme for grouse moors.
    It was quite tough to read George Monbiot’s criticism of Ed Hutchings’ ‘feeble’ petition, and Ed’s reaction to it, a few days ago. It’s always sad to watch the good guys fall out among themselves, but I really can’t see any licensing initiative achieving much when DEFRA and NE are so obviously in bed with the shooters.

  7. Given the fact that many of us would consider that NE would be likely to have a potential conflict of interest in any licensing scheme would they be fit for purpose in this role?

    Perhaps more importantly NE & Defra appear to have lost the confidence of the real conservation community and therefore credibility of management of such a scheme is at risk? Maybe skeptical but is that part of the ‘plan’ to keep illegal raptor persecution in the long grass?

  8. So SICK of this shit!!

    I see a lot of parallels between the wildlife groups campaigning on these issues, and the land ownership issues that are being flagged by people like Andy Wightman. Is there an opportunity here for a wider, more radical alliance between two very obviously connected issues?

    1. Kiera – thank you. I think there is generally speaking asome of that collaboration going on – in Scotland. There is no Andy Wightman in England.

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