Natural England has recorded the best year for hen harrier breeding in England since its hen harrier recovery project was established in 2002, with 60 chicks fledged from 19 nests across Northumberland, Yorkshire Dales, Cumbria and Lancashire in early summer 2020.
Ian McPherson, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Member Champion for Natural Environment, said: “It’s great to see that more hen harriers have bred this year. Within the Yorkshire Dales National Park itself we know of 6 nesting attempts, the highest in decades, 2 of which were brood managed.
“But while it’s good to see the steady improvement – with more nesting attempts each year – there is still a long way to go”.
As Tony Juniper, Chairman of Natural England, observed: “Too many birds still go missing in unexplained circumstances. Hen harriers remain critically endangered in England and there is a long way to go before the population returns to what it should be”.
Four of this year’s satellite-tagged young birds are already missing, ‘fate unknown’. This includes a female that was tagged in the Yorkshire Dales on 4 June 2020.
Mr McPherson said: “The Yorkshire Dales is an important area for hen harriers outside the breeding season as well, with birds from across the country coming to winter on the moors and fells. It’s crucial that these birds not only have safe nesting sites, but also survive the winter, hopefully to breed next year. We want to keep these stunning birds in our skies – where they belong – and we’re appealing to the public to help us stamp out raptor persecution once and for all.
ALL birds of prey are protected by law and killing them is a criminal offence.
So please, help be our eyes and ears whilst out in the Yorkshire Dales this autumn and winter. If you see any harriers, report them to the Hen Harrier hotline on 0845 460 0121 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, if you see anything suspicious or have a concern about a possible wildlife crime, you can call the Police on 101 and ask for the details to be passed on to a Wildlife Crime Officer. If you witness a suspected wildlife crime in action, call 999 immediately and ask for the Police. For more ways to help, and to understand the impact of raptor persecution and how to report it, visit www.operationowl.com