Of 12 hen harrier nesting attempts in England this year, six were successful and four of these were on, or adjacent to, moorland with grouse shooting

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Five of the twelve nests were monitored either by local raptor workers or a combination of organisations including Natural England and the Forestry Commission, and with the full cooperation of the private landowners all were successful in fledging chicks. However of the remaining seven nests monitored by the RSPB, one of which was on their own land, six failed.

These figures have been released by Defra and the number of breeding attempts is a marked 300% increase on 2014, when only four were made.

More needs to be done for hen harriers says Countryside Alliance

Adrian Blackmore, director of shooting for the Countryside Alliance, commented on the data: “It is marvellous news that 18 hen harrier chicks fledged in England this year, but more still needs to be done.

“In order to build on this year’s breeding success, the Countryside Alliance, British Association for Shooting and Conservation, CLA, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, and the Moorland Association are continuing to urge Defra to implement the Hen Harrier Joint Recovery Plan – the full publication of which the RSPB remains firmly against.

“Given its failure with hen harrier nests this season, the charity’s resistance to this plan is becoming increasingly questionable. Either it wants to see an improvement in the conservation status of the hen harrier in England, or it doesn’t.”

Government comes out in favour of grouse shooting

Last week, the Government put its support behind grouse shooting in response to a petition by Mark Avery, former director of conservation at the RSPB, to ban driven grouse shooting for ‘sport’. The Government’s response outlined in detail the economic and environmental benefits of grouse shooting.

The figures showing how beneficial grouse moors are to the hen harrier population will be welcomed by landowners who have received undeserved criticism.

We will be covering this story in more detail in Shooting Times on 30th September. (You can take out a subscription here and save up to 30% on the cover price.)