A study by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) shows that the control of predators such as foxes and crows, which is carried out by upland keepers, is beneficial to the hen harrier. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

The study shows that grouse moor management can aid the recovery of the bird of prey by increasing its food supply and thus increasing its productivity. However, the study also showed that high densities of harriers hinder the successful management of productive grouse moors.

Dr David Baines, the GWCT’s upland director of research, and lead author of the article, commented: “Supported by well-documented research, it is known that hen harriers can increase to densities whereby they reduce numbers of grouse and thus cause a moor to become financially unviable.

“Devising techniques that can be put into place to reduce the impact of harriers on grouse would mean that harriers could breed more successfully on grouse moors, where their natural predators, such as carrion crows, hooded crows and foxes — which predate clutches, chicks or even adults — are legally killed by gamekeepers to optimise grouse stocks.”

The rest of this article appears in the 14th August issue of Shooting Times.

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