Dagda, a male Hen Harrier, satellite-tagged by the RSPB in the Forest of Bowland, was a very welcome visitor to RPSB Geltsdale, a nature reserve in Cumbria. In April 2023 he found a mate and established a nest, the first satellite-tagged Hen Harrier to breed in Geltsdale. Sadly, little more than a month after the nest was formed and while the female was incubating eggs, he was shot dead on neighbouring Knarsdale Moor, his body being recovered on the 12th of May using the last known satellite position.
The post-mortem also revealed that he had recovered from an earlier shooting incident. RSPB Geltsdale is surrounded by driven grouse moors. Since 2020 alone, six Hen Harrier nests have failed at Geltsdale following the sudden and suspicious disappearance of the male birds.
Two-year-old male Hen Harrier Free had been satellite-tagged as a chick in Cumbria by Natural England in 2020. On the 12th April 2022, satellite data showed him as static, away from his regular roost site, near a driven grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. This unusual stop led staff from Natural England to investigate, and his headless body was recovered in an area of moorland above Outhgill near Kirkby Stephen in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
The post-mortem showed that Free died as a result of his head and leg being pulled from his body whilst still alive, concluding that this could only have been carried out by a person, not the result of natural predation.