Natural England?s executive director of science and evidence, Andrew Wood, has been criticised after comments he made accusing gamekeepers of ?routinely? shooting hen harriers.

The comments were made in a presentation at a League Against Cruel Sports symposium on wildlife crime last July and only came to light last month when they were published online.

At the symposium, attended by organisations including the RSPB, RSPCA and the National Wildlife Crime Unit, as well as the shadow minister for the natural environment, Gavin Shuker MP, Mr Wood said: ?Hen harriers are down to four breeding pairs. They are routinely shot as they predate grouse chicks on managed grouse moors. One could make a fairly logical assumption that it was gamekeepers who shot them. Gamekeepers usually deny that in public and occasionally acknowledge it in private. You cannot prove which individual shot the hen harrier, as you usually find the carcase days or hours after the incident.?

The rest of this article appears in the 4th January issue of Shooting Times.

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