News archive

November 2014

Sunday, 16 November 2014

The time to save the hen harrier is now

The time to save the hen harrier is now

However, we're also highlighting our rejection of one point of the six-point plan, known as brood management, as we believe that immediate removal of chicks from the wild and rearing them in aviaries is unacceptable and legally ambiguous. As our position on this issue has been widely mis-represented, the RSPB's view is set out in our position statement (see link at end of article).


Martin Harper is the RSPB's Conservation Director. He said: "The hen harrier is one of our most iconic birds of prey, but it is currently in danger of being lost from England and it needs urgent action to save it. Defra has worked hard with the shooting industry and conservation groups to produce a Hen Harrier Action Plan, and we believe that the workable parts of this plan must be published and implemented now to help save this bird of prey. We think the more contentious elements, for which there a plethora of unanswered questions, should go for public consultation, while the rest of the plan fulfils its purpose of protecting harriers."

We believe that brood management is a distraction, taking emphasis and resources away from tackling illegal killing. Martin Harper firmly added: "Brood management is worth considering once the hen harrier has returned to the hills and moors of England. But to do it early could see young birds released to their deaths.
The Society has no confidence that released birds will be allowed to fly free from harm. It is a sad reality that illegal killing of birds of prey continues, often linked by those with an interest in shooting. The evidence is real and compelling - gamekeepers continue to be convicted for the illegal persecution of birds of prey and there is a strong association between raptor persecution and grouse moor management. We will have no part of a project that could put a species at risk.


Martin Harper added: "We recognise that brood management has become a totemic issue for the shooting community, and that some have chosen to use strong-arm tactics against the RSPB. We reject the industry's claim that only by removing chicks from nests will gamekeepers and shooting estates accept the plan. Aggressive and intransigent campaigning by the shooting sector is threatening to derail the plan, consign hen harriers to further years of persecution and ride roughshod across attempts to work with progressive voices in the industry.

"Ministers are accountable for preventing the human-induced extinction of species, and the illegal persecution of the hen harrier is the main reason for this bird's desperate plight. It surely makes sense to publish elements of the plan which has agreement. We're urging Government to recognise the urgency of this situation and implement a plan to save the harrier, so that hen harriers can once again be a regular feature of the skies above our moors."

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Sunday, 2 November 2014

Important message from Mike Clarke, RSPB Chief Executive.

Important message from Mike Clarke, RSPB Chief Executive.

The RSPB is proud of its conservation work and robust financial standards. It has been grossly mis-represented and refutes all that the group claims.

We believe it is no coincidence that the group's campaign, in the media and on the web, comes at a time when the RSPB is calling for greater controls on the environmental impacts of some game shooting activities, amid growing public concern over the illegal killing of birds of prey. This includes hen harrier, which has been illegally persecuted to near extinction in England as a breeding species. Only last Thursday, RSPB published its Birdcrime Report 2013 which recording the wholesale illegal shooting, destruction and poisoning of eagles, harriers and red kites.

This year, the Society had its 125th anniversary, and throughout our history we have been proud of our openness and relationship with members and the public. This new campaign group appears to be unaccountable, and has anonymous financial backers for its campaign which has enlisted the services of a multi-national PR consultancy.

We have a long track record in protecting birds and wildlife. Conservation involves not just protecting nature reserves, but developing science and field testing, working with farmers and landowners to share best practice, challenging those who break the law, and fighting to protect the laws that protect our birds, wildlife and special natural places.

This attempt to limit RSPB's activities to its nature reserves comes at the same time as the latest reports of bird populations released by the UK Government. These show a continuing decline in birds of the countryside, with the indicator for farmland bird populations at the lowest level ever. This demonstrates that urgent action is needed beyond the confines of nature reserves.

The RSPB adopts the highest standards in the charity sector for financial and other working practices. The Society publishes annual accounts, which are independently audited by experts in the charity sector, and conform to all aspects required by charity regulators, including how much is spent on conservation and charitable activities.

For a more detailed response please go to: