Brood meddling doomed for 2020?

Hen Harrier. Photo: Ian Newton

Natural England is expected soon to bow to the almost inevitable and drop any plans for brood meddling of Hen Harriers in 2020.

All Natural England fieldwork is suspended at the moment in line with government instructions on non-essential travel. Natural England is re-allocating staff resources to priority areas in an attempt to ensure that staff absences do not affect core work such as responding to the planning system. Even Natural England would be hard-pressed to describe this wrong-headed project as essential, and if Natural England fieldwork on this and other projects is not happening it is difficult to see how travel by others associated with this project can be encouraged by Natural England. Even with some relaxation of travel restrictions Natural England would find it very hard to defend a decision to press ahead with this worthless project at this time. We’ve already had two years, in theory, of brood meddling during which just one Hen Harrier nest has been brought forward for manipulation – another blank year won’t harm an already hopeless ‘study’.

In addition, even the shooting industry is coming to accept that the prospects for the shooting season are distinctly doubtful – see this incredibly confused account in the Daily Telegraph. Since broodmeddling of Hen Harriers is supposed to be an experiment investigating criminal behaviour on grouse moors by those involved in grouse shooting (will the criminals see the light if they are allowed to get some of what they want from meddling with Hen Harrier eggs or chicks rather than having to commit crimes?) then these exceptional circumstances over the reduced likelihood of shooting make the already-flawed study even less valuable.

A couple of other points: it’s interesting that the Telegraph‘s confused and confusing story contains the suggestion that high-rollers don’t want to be seen shooting because of the bad publicity it might cause, and I notice that Natural England is shifting staff on to licensing duties (Wild Justice may have something to say about that later today).


8 Replies to “Brood meddling doomed for 2020?”

  1. I am presuming, hopefully, that this also means no southern introduction this year either.

    1. As you say Mark let’s hope brood meddling is at least doomed for this year as well as southern introduction. When one includes NE permitting the killing of buzzards to protect a pheasants, the killing of ravens, the killing of gulls in Lancashire, the permitting of taking peregrine falcon chicks from their nest for falconry. The list just goes on and on, brood meddling is just one more demonstration that NE is in the pocket of this wretched government and is clearly not acting in the interests of wildlife. With Mr Juniper can presiding over all this means he now has no credibility remaining.

      1. It is time to take a leaf out of the meddler’s and thieves book, and take the law into our own hands and squeeze. If the law isn’t fit for purpose, then there is no moral imperative to obey it.

      2. Natural England have had no ” independent” voice since the coalition government.

  2. This can only be a good thing, however there is a big but. That is that if there are nests that would have been brood meddled will estates let them survive to be successful?
    I suppose they may apply for licences to feed such nests, unnecessary I know but sadly this species is, beyond all reason, still the bête noire of the grouse shooting cabal.
    If they just let them get on with breeding unmolested or fed they might just learn that at normal densities it has no effect on the shooting at all. There is however an awful lot of very ignorant prejudice out there against this bird and there has already been quite a lot of persecution already this year. This is in line with what happened last time we were excluded from the countryside in the F&M outbreak in 2001.

  3. I for got to mention that it seems game keepers are considered essential workers at least by most of their employers, as they are still out there working. Working- all a grouse keeper does at this time of the year is kill things, corvids ( crows, magpies, rooks, jackdaws, for some this includes protected ravens) Stoats, weasels, mink, polecat ferrets, polecats, foxes, (again for some this will include badgers, pine martens, wild cats) gulls and of course there is a sizeable proportion of estates where all birds of prey are killed. One shoot manager on a notorious North Yorkshire estate once bragged we kill 1 raptor per 100 acres per year ( about 100 a year).

  4. Good. Now can we also stop the nest thieves from tampering with falcon nests too?

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