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‘The final straw’ as two hen harriers and 10 eggs lost on grouse shooting moor in Peak District UK News

She wrote: “Two male Hen Harriers, both with active nests, have ‘disappeared’ under suspicious circumstances from grouse moorland in the Peak District National Park.”

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Hen Harriers are a fully protected ‘Red List’ bird species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. (Photo: RSPB)

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This led to “two subsequent nest failures, both of which contained five eggs, when females abandoned the sites earlier this month”.

The location was not disclosed because the Northern Harrier is a Schedule 1 protected species, she added.

This means that 70 Hen Harriers have been confirmed ‘missing’ or illegally killed since 2018, most of them on or near grouse moorland in the UK.

One of the abandoned nests with five eggs on National Trust land. Credit: Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group

The National Trust’s chief executive for the Peak District, Craig Best, said it was “deeply concerning” and “indefensible that these beautiful birds continue to be persecuted”.

The trust is believed to have four tenants shooting grouse on its land in the High Peak.

He added: “The small number of grouse shooting agreements on land we care about must meet agreed good practice standards, the law and be consistent with our access and conservation goals. We regularly review our approach to ensure that all land management activities contribute to achieving our vision for nature and carbon.

“We want to see a landscape rich in wildlife, including birds of prey, and we are working hard with a range of expert partners to create the right conditions for these species to thrive. Over the past few years we have seen several examples of successful breeding of Hen Harriers in the Peak District.

Luke Steer, Executive Director of Wild Moors.

“Although the circumstances surrounding this incident are not yet clear, it is indefensible that these beautiful birds are still being persecuted.

“The incident has been reported to the police and we are working closely with statutory agencies and the RSPB to find out what happened.”

The Star contacted the Peak District National Park and Derbyshire Police.

Luke Steele, executive director of conservation campaigners Wild Moors, said it was the latest in a “long string” of persecution incidents on the National Trust’s Dark Peak estate over the past decade.

He added: “While we welcome recent moves to tighten the rules on grouse shooting, the Trust must face the fact that as long as grouse shooting continues on its land, so will the persecution of birds of prey.

“This latest incident must be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and ends grouse hunting on National Trust land.”

The Trust recently completed a review of its grouse shooting leases for the High Peak Estate and tightened its rules, it added.

Measures included ending the use of ‘medicated gravel’, banning the trapping and trapping of mammals and birds to increase the number of grouse for shooting, and banning the burning of heather.

He added: “Other landowners have actively banned grouse shooting, including Sheffield Council on Burbage, Houndkirk and Hathersage Moors, while some are actively reviewing grouse shooting leases, including Yorkshire Water, and tightening restrictions. rules governing the use of their land, United Utilities. These landowners also banned burning.

This is not the first time Hen Harriers have gone missing in or near the Sheffield countryside.

It was never found although it was fitted with a satellite tracking beacon by the RSPB in 2021.

In 2018, the RSPB said a bird called Octavia, which had risen from a nest in the Peak District that summer, was one of three such birds to suddenly disappear.

Octavia had also been fitted with sophisticated satellite trackers, which they said normally continue to transmit and are detected if the birds die of natural causes.

A spokeswoman for Sheffield City Council said they banned all blood sports on their grounds in 1982. And a moor burning ban had been in place “for at least 10 years”.

She added: ‘The council’s ecology unit bases its decisions on current science. The EMBER study from the University of Leeds clearly highlights the negative effect of heathland burning on our ecology and hydrology. We do not support heathland burning for this reason.

The EMBER report (Effects of Moorland Burning on the Ecohydrology of Riverbasins) states that the burning of heather on moorlands, which is practiced primarily to support red ptarmigan populations for shooting sports, has “significant negative impacts on the peat hydrology, peat chemistry and physical properties, river water chemistry and river ecology”.

Dr Lee Brown, from the University of Leeds School of Geography, who led the study, said: “Until now there has been little evidence of the environmental impacts of heathland burning. Yet, Many heathland owners and individuals who hold sporting rights to the land have felt pressured by regulators and conservationists to…

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This notice was published: 2022-05-12 16:58:04

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