The latest RSPB Birdcrime Report documents the continuing relentless persecution of Hen Harriers and other birds of prey in the UK. As the Report notes, ‘despite being fully protected by law and a UK Red Listed species, they are being persecuted on a relentless scale.
Between January 2022 and October 2023, 39 Hen Harriers are suspected or proven to have been persecuted across the UK. And the report tells us that this number is likely to rise, as some known incidents cannot be disclosed yet as they form part of on-going investigations.
As a rare protected species with an estimated fewer than 600 breeding pairs in the whole of the UK, this chronic level of persecution, if it continues, will severely hamper the chance of any recovery for this charismatic raptor.
In response, Hen Harrier Action has launched a Christmas Appeal on GoFundMe to raise money to fund the satellite tagging and monitoring of young Hen Harrier chicks next Spring.
We’ve set an ambitious target of raising enough money to fund four satellite tags, likely to cost around £12,000. The tagging and monitoring will be undertaken by the RSPB.
The Hen Harrier is native to the British isles, breeding on hills and moors. It is a jewel of the uplands, yet an incredibly rare sight.
Hen Harriers face many threats, but the largest comes from illegal persecution: by poisoning, trapping and shooting on grouse moors. The crimes committed by those who kill Hen Harriers are frequently hard to pinpoint due to the remoteness of the locations these birds inhabit. Prosecution remains difficult.
However, birds fitted with Satellite tags can help shape better conservation action to protect these birds, and act as a strong deterrent against criminals looking to kill Hen Harriers. Each satellite tag costs between £2500 – £3500. From the funds raised from this appeal, we will use our strong relationship with the RSPB to fund the tagging and monitoring of 4 young Hen Harriers in the spring of 2024.
In a recent interview with Mark Thomas, Head of the RSPB’s Investigations Team, he told us:
“The donations for satellite tags are really important for us. Without satellite tags, we couldn’t track what is happening to Hen Harriers and so we are very dependent on that kind of generous support to help us monitor the birds. Tag technology is advancing all the time, and so our ability to track the birds is continually improving.”