A new report has been released with information on the status of bird of prey populations and confirmed persecution incidents in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
It’s the first report of its kind to be published by the Yorkshire Dales Bird of Prey Partnership, a group with a shared commitment to bird of prey conservation, and reveals one of the most successful hen harrier breeding seasons in the Yorkshire Dales since they first returned to breed in the 1960s. Seven nesting attempts fledged 26 hen harrier young, representing 43% of the recorded fledged hen harrier chicks across the north of England in 2020.
The group, comprising the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, The Moorland Association, Natural England, National Gamekeepers Organisation, Northern England Raptor Forum, and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), aims to produce this record of bird of prey species active in the Dales annually.
Unfortunately, the Covid-19 lockdown meant some monitoring programmes weren’t possible in 2020, but many of the regularly occurring species – such as buzzard – were seen, with some encouraging sightings of goshawk and osprey observed during the year.
However, despite the best efforts of partners and a number of landowners to engage in bird of prey conservation, ten confirmed persecution incidents were recorded in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Killing birds of prey is illegal, and the group condemns raptor persecution in the strongest possible terms. Anyone with concerns about a possible wildlife crime should call 101, and anyone witnessing a suspected wildlife crime should call 999 and ask for the Police.
Publication of the report was delayed to ensure the accuracy and completeness of bird of prey persecution data collated by the RSPB and audited by the Police’s National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU).
This 2020 report will provide a baseline against which progress will be monitored over coming years, and it is hoped a 2021 report will be published later in the year. In the meantime, the group recognises more work needs to be done to address the challenges faced by bird of prey populations in the Yorkshire Dales and in the continued efforts to stamp out raptor persecution.
The Bird of Prey Evidence Report 2020 for the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty can be viewed online here.
About The Yorkshire Dales Bird of Prey Partnership
The Yorkshire Dales National Park and Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Management Plans include objectives to tackle the illegal persecution of birds of prey and owls. This involves working closely with landowners, moorland managers, the Police and other key stakeholders to devise and implement a local approach to end illegal persecution of raptors.
Given the comparable management plan objectives, the same issues affecting bird of prey populations in both protected landscapes, and the two areas comprising a contiguous area of similar upland habitat, a joint steering group was established in 2019 comprising a broad coalition of partners with a shared commitment to bird of prey conservation.
The group includes representatives from British Association for Shooting & Conservation, Country Land & Business Association, Cumbria Constabulary, The Moorland Association, National Gamekeepers Organisation, Natural England, Nidderdale AONB, North Yorkshire Police, Northern England Raptor Forum, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.
Natural England is the lead organisation for the delivery of the management plan objective in the National Park. The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority provides the Chair and Secretariat for the steering group as a whole.
The group aims to publish an annual report summarising bird of prey population status, monitoring and protection efforts, and confirmed persecution incidents in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The first report has just been published and provides a baseline from which progress can be measured over the coming years. Many of the organisations represented on the steering group undertake survey and monitoring work, so the comprehensiveness of this report, and those to follow, will always be dependent on the data supplied. That said, the content prepared for this report has been compiled and agreed with the full support of all members of the group.