Today we have received the news that young hen harrier, Thor, has disappeared. It disappoints me greatly that these young tagged birds keep vanishing, but gives me more energy to fight ongoing raptor persecution head-on. The first ever National Raptor Persecution Workshop will take place in November, bringing key individuals together to harness ideas and activity that will deliver a real and long lasting difference, I will then drive this activity through the PPDG.
While it hasn’t been confirmed that this is a result of persecution, the circumstances will naturally lead people to believe this to be the case. I say this because the disappearance has occurred in a location where other hen harriers, namely Hope and Sky also disappeared without trace a few years ago under almost identical circumstances.
The matter has been reported to Lancashire Police and the RSPB and an investigation is underway.
Anybody with any information in relation to this matter should report this to the local police, through telephone 101 or,
RSPB Raptor Persecution Hotline
As the new chair of the Raptor PPDG, I committed to ensuring that there was a single voice when these incidents were bought to my attention.
Unfortunately the National Wildlife Crime Unit and I heard about this matter through blogs on twitter today. I have agreed therefore with the RSPB that we will share this important information between us moving forwards, the PPDG and NWCU having a social media presence is new for everyone and securing this RSPB support is a significant step forwards.
I am working hard behind the scenes with PPDG members to ensure we can respond quickly to these reported incidents, through this blog. PPDG members are committed to responding in this way and the next few weeks will see me progress this further.
While the latest disappearance absolutely needed a PPDG reply, receiving the news late in the day has only allowed me to contact a limited number of group members, a fuller update would have taken time and that PPDG silence will have been filled with conspiracy theory. I know future PPDG updates will include more comprehensive partnership statements.
A Northern England Raptor Forum representative said “NERF members, working alongside the RSPB, located this breeding pair, ringed the young and fitted a satellite tag to Thor. Two other satellite tagged birds, Hope and Sky, ‘disappeared’ in the same location, on a grouse moor. We expect all members of the RPPDG to condemn raptor persecution and work tirelessly to assist the Police in their investigation into this incident”
Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association said: “We join this appeal without hesitation and it is vital the police receive any possible information. This year we have been hugely encouraged by the best hen harrier breeding season in a decade and the fact that 60% of this year’s successfully fledged chicks had help from gamekeepers. At this stage it is not known if anything has happened to Thor beyond that the tag has stopped transmitting. It is widely recognised that that there is a high natural mortality rate for young hen harriers with only two out of every ten expected to survive their first year. We all know that collaboration is the key to successful conservation. As such, enhanced transparency and greater sharing of satellite tag data from the outset of birds’ lives would be a huge step in the right direction.”
I will edit this blog further as more PPDG members make contact