Hen Harrier brood meddling on trial (1)

Hen Harrier checks. Photo: Gordon Yates

On Wednesday and Thursday this week, three Court of Appeal judges will hear appeals from myself and the RSPB on the subject of Natural England’s controversial licensing of brood meddling of Hen Harriers. The three judges will be considering the legal point of whether Justice Lang was right to dismiss our judicial reviews on this subject back in March 2019 (yes, it really was that long ago) and not whether the brood meddling approach is working or sensible or it’s a well-designed intervention. The hearing will address Justice Lang’s view that Natural England didn’t have to consider alternatives to brood meddling because brood meddling is a piece of science and there is no alternative to a piece of science if what you want to do is a piece of science. At least, in the strange world of the law, that is what I think is happening. And I thought we were all supposed to be conserving Hen Harriers.

My view is that brood meddling is a massive waste of time and money and distracts everyone from properly addressing the real issue which is the very high level of illegal persecution of Hen Harriers on grouse moors. It is also my view that brood meddling isn’t working, isn’t sensible and isn’t a well-designed intervention.

More on this today and tomorrow.

If you would like to ‘attend’ the appeal which will take place online then you may be allowed by the court. If you email me on mark@markavery.info I will send you details of how you can request the log in details.

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8 Replies to “Hen Harrier brood meddling on trial (1)”

  1. Lang’s judgement sounds really screwy to me and you are quite right to challenge it Mark. Just because it is “piece of science”, as he describes Hen Harrier brood meddling, does not in any way mean that it is the right science to apply in this case. . Almost anything can be described as science. For example collecting of wild birds eggs could be described as science but quite rightly it has been made illegal.
    Also I would argue that brood meddling is not a science (depends obviously how one defines the term “science”), but that it is solely a device to try to raise Hen Harrier chicks away from their natural parents nest. Raising chicks away from their nest has been done many times before (e.g. great crane and great bustard projects) and the methodology for doing this is well established. It is the reason behind all this that is different in this case and that reason is clearly at fault.

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  2. Good luck Mark and so hope you get the result on appeal. Will watch events unfold with baited breath.

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  3. There is nothing scientific about brood meddling: his judgement is wrong in fact and, therefore, in law. What is the hypothesis they are testing? That gamekeepers will not kill fledged hen harriers if they are removed from their nest sites and reared elsewhere? Which peer-reviewed scientific theory underpins the practice? Where are the scientific papers that back it up? My copy of the Ian Redpath et al edited "Conflicts in Conservation", which is pretty exhaustive, does not mention brood meddling at all as a conflict mitigation measure.

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  4. Its illegal to remove eggs from nests so it must be illegal to remove or move fledgling. And its done just so a few hoora Henry's can spend a day slaughtering thousands of little birds that are not really worth eating. But it is great fun!!!! Same with pheasant on the moors they are breed to be shot they are tame when they are released so see no danger in humans. Its comman to shoot 800-1000 day then dig a big hole and bury them, thats great fun as well!!!! But not so much as chasing foxes there again are breed in captivaty and released just before the pack arrive oh what great fun. All this takes part in the so called national park, perhaps its time, there should be full page adverts in the national news papers telling holiday makers the fun they can have shooting every thing that flies and chasing and ripping to pieces furry little animals bring the kids its great fun and the memories will stay with them forever. Its a national park for people to walk with nature well thats if you dont get ran over by some moron on an off road motor bike.

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  5. We are at a time of environmental turmoil. Moorland type habitat needs to be reassessed to enable natural carbon capture, this may be at the cost of dry moorland and increased wet type not suitable for grouse.
    Will central government take this step, I doubt it.

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