Hen Harrier Day Wales Some Of Your Questions Answered And More

Hen Harrier Day Wales was a huge success with over 7,000 people watching the event! Here are some of the questions that were asked on the day. Sorry if we missed your question please do get in touch we will very happy to answer them.

Q. When is the peak time of year that Hen Harriers come to an unnatural end?

A. There are two peak times when Hen Harriers are most at risk, though sadly illegal persecution goes on year round. When the birds return to the moors looking for suitable breeding areas they are at great risk as they may well visit Driven Grouse Moors where there is lots of habitat, heather moorland, but no competition in the form of other Hen Harriers because any birds unlucky enough to visit are illegally killed. Secondly when the young birds disperse from safe breeding areas they can wander on to Driven Grouse Moors where they are illegally killed. This is fact, 69 percent of Hen Harriers killed die on Driven Grouse Moors, 69 percent! And it is good to remember these moors are devoid of natural predators such as foxes as these to have been wiped out all be it within the law. So these moors should be very safe for Hen Harriers if people remained within the law, sadly they continue to break the law repeatedly. The vast majority of Driven Grouse Moors have no Hen Harriers breeding on them despite the fact that the habitat and abundance of prey make them ideal locations. The Hen Harrier population is well below its potential size in every part of the UK – the main constraint is illegal persecution.

Q. How to maximise effectiveness of people’s volunteering efforts?

A. Eyes on the moors are very important indeed, criminals can only operate unseen so more people being aware of and looking for wildlife crime the better. Our Wildlife Crime Police Officers are few in number and rely heavily on the general public to see evidence of criminal activity and report it to them. Early mornings and evenings are peak times for wildlife crime to take place simply because the criminals know less people to see them undertaking their illegal acts. If you do see any evidence of Wildlife Crime it is essential to gather as much evidence as possible, photographs, videos, detailed notes and record exact times of events will all help the Police. Also record details of vehicles used or in the area that could belong to the criminals. Do tamper with potential evidence if you can avoid it, record it in detail and contact the Police at once. The only occasion it might be needed to tamper with the evidence is if you came across a “pole-trap” a spring trap set on top of a fence post – illegal and only used to trap protected birds. These can easily to rendered harmless by hitting the trap with a long stick, keep well away from it, or throwing a rock onto it, this will cause the jaws to snap shut making it useless to kill birds. Ensure to photograph the trap insitu before making it safe. In all these case take wide angle photos as well as close ups of the evidence as this will show the exact location. If possible remain in the area to assist the Police when they arrive. If confronted by hostile persons record this too and walk away calmly and watch from a safe distance if possible do not put yourself at risk and do not confront criminals unless you feel totally safe doing so. Again can’t emphasize enough record as much as you can with photographs and videos these will be a huge help to the Police. We can reduce wildlife crime massively with enough eyes and ears on the moors.

Q. How about a report on much the Hen Harrier could be worth in terms of domestic Ecotourism?

A. It would be great to see some hard facts about how much Ecotourism is worth to the Welsh economy it must be a huge amount? It would be very hard to break it down to specific species level but certainly some species would bring in huge numbers of visitors such as the various Osprey viewing schemes and the Puffins that nest at some coastal sites around the Welsh coast for example Skomer Island and South Stack. Given the small number of Hen Harriers and their remote breeding areas the amount of income would probably look small in comparison to other tourist attractions. Not to say that it is insignificant as we know people do come to Wales to see Hen Harriers and take huge amounts of pleasure from seeing them. Bird and wildlife watchers spend millions of pounds every year here in Wales using hotels, holiday accommodation, restaurants, cafes, pubs, petrol stations, tourist attractions, nature reserves and so much more this economic benefit to Wales needs to be recognised and shouted about.

Q. Should the Hen Harriers being “meddled” with in England be used for reintroduction programmes in England if they are being so persecuted across the country?

A. This refers to the taking of Hen Harriers from nests, under licence from Natural England, and then releasing them away from Driven Grouse Moors. The whole scheme is insane, why should they be removed from where they choose to breed to stop them being killed by criminals? I don’t think you would be very happy if a crime wave in your neighbourhood resulted in the Police knocking on your door and asking you to move house because you are not safe from the criminals!! Surely you tackle the criminals not remove the things the criminals want to kill? Releasing birds away from their nest sites has been a total disaster so far as expected with the majority of the birds dying very soon after release. It is just wrong.

Q. Can we make the Hen Harrier and Red Grouse symbols for a Green New Deal in the UK?

A. Be a great idea! More people need to know about the criminals that kill our “protected” wildlife and this would help for sure. Getting people to care about our wildlife is the key to better protection and stamping out wildlife crime. Public opinion can and does change Government policies and if enough people stand up for our wildlife against the criminals then more resources will be put in place to tackle this wildlife crime wave that is depriving us of our wildlife.

Q. Can we manage a transition for gamekeepers to conservationists?

A. That is a very interesting question indeed, not all gamekeepers break the law by any means but the ones that do have a huge effect on their area. How we tackle these people is very difficult as we have seen it is very hard for the Police to bring successful prosecutions as evidence is hard to collect in remote areas, there are few eye-witnesses and gamekeepers employers can afford highly paid legal teams to search for loop-holes that result in cases being dropped even when the Police are happy that the case should go to trail all very frustrating. Certainly education with some of the Gamekeepers would help if they were open to it? I have spoken to many keepers over the years some very knowledgeable about wildlife but others that are stuck in the Victorian age where all predators be they mammals or birds are “vermin” and should be destroyed. It is these living the past hard core that are the problem and are unlikely to convert to new ways sadly. It is a fact that the majority of people convicted of wildlife crime in the UK are Gamekeepers and given how hard it is to bring a case to court we can only imagine there are many more un-convicted ones? Education alongside far better enforcement of the laws of the land is the answer but delivering those is proving very tough indeed.

Q. Have any estates in Wales tried satellite feeding platforms for Hen Harriers in the breeding season?

A. Not aware that this has been tried at any sites in Wales, we only have one moor where Driven Grouse Shooting is being attempted and no reports of Hen Harriers here anymore sadly. They used to breed before Driven Grouse Shooting was reintroduced two satellite tagged birds have died in the area in suspicious circumstances. Feeding stations have been tried elsewhere in the UK and Hen Harriers will take food from them at times surly if people were serious about having Hen Harriers on their Driven Grouse Moors this would be worthy of further study?

Q. Is there Vicarious Liability in Wales? This is where landowners can be held accountable for their employee’s actions i.e. breaking the law.

A. Sadly not it would be a good idea but again bringing cases to court and having a successful outcome very difficult indeed as is the case in Scotland where it does exist.

Q. Why does it always rain on Hen Harrier Day?

A. Ha ha! It doesn’t honestly! The first one admittedly was a shocker with torrential rain for the whole event. We have never been so soaked as that first Hen Harrier Day back in 2014 but since then not been bad and 2019 at Carsington Water was pretty good. Fingers crossed for lovely weather in 2021.

Q. What is the Royal Family doing for Hen Harriers?

A. Short answer we don’t know. No statements from the Royal Family about Hen Harriers that we are aware of. A recent incident of a Goshawk being filmed being beaten to death on one of the Queens Estates in England is being investigated be interesting to see where that leads.

The national event, Hen Harrier Day Uk, is on the 8th August. The more of a buzz we can create around these events the more people will know of the terrible illegal killing of our wildlife on our moors. Please help spread the word every way possible, use social media, talk to everyone you meet, write about it, sing about, write poetry about it, make a lot of noise about our wildlife and help stop the illegal killing. Thank you so much for your support.

Crowd HH Day 2016 1

The UK event will be live-hosted on 8 August and will include lots of brilliant stuff. We can't say too much about some aspects right now, we are sworn to secrecy, but there will be some great presenters as well as some brilliant film, talks and more information about the birds and other animals of the uplands affected by the problems of over-intense management for shooting.

The Hen Harrier is our symbol, and its story will help shape the day. We want to tell you about this fantastic bird and how, sadly, it suffers from illegal persecution. And we want to say more about other problems of the uplands: burning, flooding and the cruel killing of many, many other animals, just to support the shooting of animals for ‘fun’. But we also want to show you a powerful vision of how our uplands can be different, better for wildlife and for people. In fact, not just one vision: there are many possible futures for the uplands and we can all contribute to building them. We also want to highlight how urgent and important it is to make changes, not only to save our precious upland wildlife but to help save the planet too; for these places are huge carbon reserves that risk permanent damage if we don’t look after them properly.

Hen Harrier Days are all about building public awareness and engagement, and our online event will have lots of content inspired by the community. There will be poems and songs – and a T-shirt design competition. The winning entries of a children's writing competition will be read out and some of the art we receive will be on show – and we hope that a couple of rather large hen harriers will appear on a graffiti wall in Aberdeen.

In fact, we’re still looking for new ideas and offers. Do you belong to a group or organisation that might be excited to take on a related challenge? It could be poetry, painting or drawing, a craft activity, photography, anything where our 'theme' could engage people, perhaps especially during the coming few weeks of continuing lockdown. We'll try to find a way to showcase everything, with the best featuring at the event on the day. We also have some ideas still in our back pocket, waiting for someone to organise them and bring them to life. If you are that person, please get in touch.

When we get near the date we’ll publish a full programme on this page below. Between now and then we’ll be adding news and updates so please watch this space and follow us on social media.


Lots more bird blogs coming soon please check back for lots more bird stuff!

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