Saturday, January 26, 2008

Hen Harriers and Operation Artemis

The December edition of British Birds reported that Operation Artemis, the police operation to protect Hen Harriers, needed more funding and more support from Natural England (Page 760 "Harry and the harriers"). My understanding is that Operation Artemis has been wound up. The website has been taken down. Artemis was unsurprisingly unpopular with game keepers (click here for their response).

Hen Harrier appears to have been eradicated from the North Yorks Moors in winter as well as in the breeding season. I now have not seen one for 2 years and know of only one record recently.

It is arguable that Artemis was a blunt instrument to deal with Hen Harrier persecution and that a different approach might be more successful. If we do nothing the species will be extinct in England soon enough. The Bowland population will not be sustainable in isolation imho and anyway do we really want just one relict population of a species that should be widespread on our moors, and in winter, over our marshes?

If we wish to see Hen Harrier returned to England we will need to work with the landowners and game keepers and develop an approach that they can stomach. Whatever our opinion of the game keeping fraternity, and we should remember the benefits of their activities as well as the detrimental persecution of raptors, I think we will have to build bridges.

Well that's today's lecture done with and as I'm grievously infected with some dire lurgy back to the arm chair, tea and toast and "Garden Birdwatch".


AndyC said...

I have been working in the Peak District,North and South pennines for the last four springs in prime Hen Harrier breeding habitat and have only seen 1 female displaying.The grouse moors will not allow HH to breed at this moment in time.The only way they will in my opinion is to offer a cash insentive,ie £1000 per chick raised to the flying stage payable to the gamekeeper,they could allow 1 pair and stand the loss to the grouse population.

East Ayton Birding said...

Agree it needs to be financial, and whatever the compensation figure required, considering the number of birds involved, the cost is negligible from a public spending point of view. Money payable would probably need to go directly into the coffers of the estates involved.

Vague memory if I'm right of sheep farmers being paid compensation for introduced white-tailed eagles.

Wonder sometimes though if it more than money at stake, and is at least in part, a cultural difference/outlook on life.

The local estate a mile from here owns the moors at Danby, and certainly locally, raptors (obviously of a certain type eg common buzzard, etc) appear unhindered.

Alastair said...

The difficulty is that there is such serious money in grouse estates. I would expect that as you suggest some would be interested in some sort of financial incentive. The threatening approach of Op Art didn't go down a storm with the estates that's for sure. It might even have antagonised some and made the situation worse.

AndyC said...

Some estates dont have that much money and a small area could be worked beneficial to both parties.The large estates are a differnt kettle of fish and unfortuneatly they only think of grouse numbers and pleasing the shooters,but 1 pair of HH take about 60 grouse to raise there young.this is 2 good days shooting at aprox £2000 a day.?Unless the RSPB/NE or the EU buy land for HH then things will be the same for the next 50 years .!

Anonymous said...

The Hen Harrier doesn't stand a chance, sadly, as long as there is such commercial exploitation of the heather uplands. It is just a little too slow to escape the keepers guns and are brought within range by captive pigeons - in my experience. The buzzard is a little more wily and has the advantage of nesting within sight of the 'teacher's houses'.