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Hen harriers in recovery

The population of hen harriers is showing signs of recovery throughout Great Britain, according to the RSPB’s 2023 survey.

The UK and Isle of Man population is estimated to be 691 territorial pairs. This is a 20% increase from the 545 pairs recorded in the last survey in 2016 and arrests the trend of decline shown since the 2004 survey, when 749 pairs were recorded.

However, the RSPB has highlighted the “shocking” disappearance of 32 satellite-tagged hen harriers last year and cites illegal persecution as a major factor hampering hen harrier recovery. The RSPB also says the raptors remain absent from large parts of England, such as the North York Moors, that are ideally suited habitats.

Lindsay Waddell, former chairman of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, told Shooting Times: “It’s all very well stating there is illegal killing, but transmitters fail as has been shown before, and no gamekeeper south of the border has been charged with any offence relating to persecution. 

“It would have been good if for once the RSPB had highlighted the pluses, rather than once again trying to discredit the good work done by the gamekeeping community in managing these areas for all the birds which use them.”