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RSPB press launch – Unlawful killing main reason behind demise in Hen Harriers – Mark Avery


Unlawful killing main reason behind demise in Hen Harriers

  • New research exhibits yearly survival charges of Hen Harriers ‘unusually low,’ with birds usually residing simply 4 months after fledging.
  • Unlawful killing is the primary reason behind demise for older birds, accounting for up 75% of deaths every year in birds between one and two years previous, and can be a significant reason behind demise in birds below one 12 months.
  • Mortality as a result of unlawful killing was increased in areas managed for Purple Grouse capturing, highlighting the position that persecution on some grouse moors play in limiting Hen Harrier populations within the UK.
Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus, feminine manoeuvering in flight, Geltsdale, Cumbria, August 2016. Picture: Mark Thomas/RSPB

Unlawful killing is the primary reason behind demise in Hen Harriers aged between one and two years of age, and a significant reason behind deaths in birds below one 12 months, in accordance with a brand new paper, revealed within the journal Organic Conservation [not yet visible online – link to follow when available], and led by the RSPB.

Utilizing information from the biggest monitoring programme for Hen Harriers globally, the authors found that people tracked by the challenge had been usually residing simply 121 days after fledging. The chance of dying because of unlawful killing elevated as harriers spent extra time on areas managed for grouse capturing.

Hen Harriers are on the Purple Checklist of birds of conservation concern within the UK, which means they’re one of many nation’s most at-risk species. Regardless of all birds of prey being protected by legislation because the Fifties and extra just lately below the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, unlawful persecution is understood to be a severe points – in 2019, a UK Authorities research discovered unlawful killing to be the primary issue limiting the restoration of the UK Hen Harrier inhabitants [see here].

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To analyze the survival and actions of Hen Harriers, researchers used satellite tv for pc monitoring gadgets. While these tags present crucial insights into the ecology of the species and assist in conservation, they will also be used to get better lifeless people, thus permitting the reason for demise to be recognized.

Between 2014 to 2020, RSPB and companions fitted satellite tv for pc transmitters to juvenile Hen Harriers at nests throughout Scotland, England, Wales, and the Isle of Man, deploying tags on 148 people funded by means of the Hen Harrier LIFE challenge. The group checked out survival charges, causes of demise whether or not pure or by means of unlawful killing, and associations between mortality and land managed for grouse capturing.

Annual survival was low, particularly amongst birds below one 12 months previous (males: 14%; females: 30%), with unlawful killing accounting for 27-41% of birds below one 12 months, and 75% of mortality in birds aged between one and two years. Not sufficient birds survived over 2 years to estimate mortality as a result of unlawful killing for adults.

The authors discovered a number of strands of compelling proof that unlawful killing is attributed to administration for grouse capturing. A ten% enhance in grouse moor use was related to a 43% enhance in mortality. There was additionally a robust overlap between the extent of mortality in 20km squares and the world of grouse moor, with hotspots of unlawful killing recognized in northern England and northeast Scotland.  In distinction, there have been no clear associations between use of grouse moors and demise as a result of pure causes.

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Steven Ewing, RSPB Senior Conservation Scientist and lead creator of the research mentioned: “Hen Harriers have been legally protected within the UK for nearly 70 years, however this research provides to the already overwhelming proof base that unlawful killing stays a key reason behind this species’ low inhabitants dimension and its ongoing absence from massive areas of the uplands, notably grouse moors”.

The RSPB’s specialist Investigations group gathers proof of raptor crime, and works alongside different teams, organisations and the police with the intention to examine wildlife crimes.

Mark Thomas, RSPB Head of Investigations UK mentioned: “Prior to now 12 months alone we all know that 21 Hen Harriers have been illegally killed or gone lacking in Northern England, in reference to land managed for grouse capturing. One hen is known to have had its head pulled off whereas nonetheless alive. Unlawful persecution is unacceptable, legal and it could be an act of gross neglect and irresponsibility for the federal government to disregard what is going on.





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