Hen Harrier brood-meddling – just for the record…

Since we are definitely having a Hen Harrier-fllled day…

On 27 July this blog pointed out to Natural England that it was all over the place with what it said about the reasons (there are no good ones) for the Hen Harrier brood meddling trial – see here.

Natural England’s blog, written by their Director responsible for species licensing issues (including brood-meddling licences I assume), Dave Slater, had written that;

The 5 year brood management trial is designed to determine how many hen harriers can live alongside grouse before they have an impact on grouse numbers through predating them.

This isn’t anything to do with what brood-meddling is for and was not consistent with Natural England’s sworn court testimony on the subject.

I know that this text did not change very quickly but I noticed yesterday that it now has and the offending sentence has been replaced with;

The aims of the brood management trial are to understand if it is possible to rear hen harriers in captivity and then release them to become successful breeding adults in the English uplands but also to investigate the effects of this technique on the perceptions and behaviour of the moorland community.


That is the convoluted excuse for brood-meddling. There is no note on the blog that it has been changed and that an error has been rectified, which is poor practice as it amounts to rewriting history without any admission. Dominic Cummings?

I’m still shocked that a senior member of Natural England, but that the organisation as a whole, could screw up on the facts of a high-profile project. It’s not an approach that builds trust.

I’m getting very impatient about the timetabling of our Appeal Court hearing on brood-meddling (see here). There is still no date allocated.

Oh, and by the way, in July, on that same blog, Natural England said that there were over 20 successful Hen Harrier nests in England this year – today, they said that there were 19 nests (but actually, it seems there were 24 nests of which 19 were successful). You simply can’t believe what Natural England says on this subject because they show no sign of knowing what they are doing. Someone needs to get a grip of the staff, and of the truth.

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8 Replies to “Hen Harrier brood-meddling – just for the record…”

  1. Typical of problems in a poorly run organisation without a clear mandate of its purpose.

  2. Sounds about right Mark, but it is still a euphemism for a policy of appeasement. How many broods could be meddled ( vandalised) at the same time? I suspect the answer is in single figures, so if we had a continuing increase in Hen Harrier nesting attempts we might quickly find that capacity reached. What then, do the criminals in tweed interfere to stop those breeding attempts?
    From what I hear many estates are very unhappy about BM anyway and would rather that those estates involved simply got rid of the birds. We need those 43 dead harriers over the last couple of years, in this context especially the shot males at White Syke ( nearly in AA’s garden) and Threshfield Moor.
    It does not bode well if the population continues to grow, never mind the our wish of having a full capacity of birds. A ban or a very heavily policed licence system is the only longer term option.

  3. ‘The 5 year brood management trial is designed to determine how many hen harriers can live alongside grouse before they have an impact on grouse numbers through predating them.’

    That is a truly mindblowing statement from so many angles and the fact that they changed it without any acknowledgement is disgraceful, as is leaving it in place for so long.
    Can they really just get away with this? I hope t least Mark can use it somehow in his court case.
    When i see Thérèse Coffey, previous of DEFRA, refusing to acknowledge the tragedy of the death by negligence of Mercy Baguma, i realise there is a pattern and caring is not part of it at all. Lying and heartlessness has become the norm and of course we must not stop calling it out.

  4. What an absolute farce this brood meddling is. Yet again, it is Defra and Natural England pandering to their friends in the shooting industry. If Defra spent half the money they are spending on this farcical activity on really effective protection measures for our hen harriers on grouse moors we would have a lot more hen harriers.

  5. We must never forget that shooting interests are embedded in the senior levels of Natural England. Theresa Dent sits on the NE board and is CEO of the GWCT, while another NE board member, Henry Robinson, is a trustee and chairman of the Hawk and Owl Trust, an ex-chairman of the CLA and current chairman of The Deer Initiative.
    When evaluating scientific publications and opinion, we should also remember that Prof. Steve Redpath is also on the board of the Hawk and Owl Trust.
    So don’t expect NE to drop brood meddling any time soon, however daft it is.

    1. Alan Two – well, Teresa is an ex-Board member now. I don’t think that Henry’s position on any of those bodies puts him in the pro-shooting camp but probably rule him out of the anti-shooting camp. You’d expect a variety of views on such a Board – indeed it woul be very odd if there weren’t. Andy Clements is a vegetarian at least.

      1. TD is only just an ex-member, having stood down in July of this year. The Deer Initiative (of which Henry Robinson is Chair) is widely regarded as having arisen as an offshoot of the BASC, and one of its main activities is training deer stalkers. I would regard it as a strongly pro-shooting organisation, albeit promoting ‘clean kills’. Indeed, shooting is absolutely at the heart of the DI.
        And I should have mentioned another current NE board member, Lord Blencathra, an ardent supporter of foxhunting and adviser to the Countryside Alliance during its (largely successful) efforts to water down the hunting with dogs legislation.
        I would absolutely stand by my assertion that shooting interests are embedded at the top of NE.

  6. Could someone tell me why brood management is such a bad thing with regard to Hen Harriers, whereas with Red Kites and White Tailed Sea Eagles it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Also although they have done in the past, probably while persecution was at a higher level why are there no pairs on the SW moors, no grouse shooting there?

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