RSPB joins conservation and shooting bodies in calling on DEFRA to publish its Hen Harrier Joint Recovery Plan

The RSPB has joined other conservation and shooting bodies in calling on DEFRA to publish its Hen Harrier Joint Recovery Plan. The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) started a campaign to get the plan published last July, but the RSPB refused to support it until now because it objected to the inclusion of a brood management strategy.

The RSPB has now asked DEFRA to publish and implement the “workable elements” of the action plan. Conservation director Martin Harper said that the charity wants the “more contentious elements” to be put to the public for consultation.

Brood management would see chicks removed from the wild in areas where a certain population density had been reached to avoid excessive predation on red grouse chicks. The young harriers would be reared in aviaries and later released back into the wild.

But the RSPB described this as “a distraction, taking emphasis and resources away from tackling illegal killing”.

The GWCT’s Andrew Gilruth welcomed the RSPB’s engagement, saying: “Martin Harper is to be congratulated on making it clear that there is indeed a plan, negotiated by DEFRA with ‘the shooting industry and conservation groups’ and that the RSPB is currently the only participant vetoing its implementation. This development allows everyone to understand the nature of the remaining problem and focus on its resolution.”

Adrian Blackmore, head of the Countryside Alliance’s shooting campaign, called the RSPB’s position on brood management “illogical”. He said: “Blocking the publication of that part of the plan would suggest, again, that the RSPB is motivated more by a dislike of grouse shooting, than it is by a concern for hen harriers.”