The Countryside Alliance (CA) has rubbished claims by the RSPB that hen harriers are dangerously close to being wiped out due to illegal killing by gamekeepers.

The RSPB?s conservation director, Martin Harper, said that the fate of the bird in England was hanging in the balance as a result of ?decades of persecution?.

However, the CA?s moorlands director, Adrian Blackmore, pointed out that the bird is facing particular problems at the RSPB?s own Geltsdale reserve in Cumbria, where no hen harriers have bred successfully since 2006.

He said: ?While the RSPB?s failure at Geltsdale is attributed to natural circumstances, the low breeding success on grouse moors is always laid at the door of gamekeepers.

The rest of this article appears in the 23rd May issue of Shooting Times.

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