10 August 2014 marks the very first Hen Harrier Day to take place in the UK

10 August 2014 marks the very first Hen Harrier Day to take place in the UK

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Added by August 10, 2014

Today is the Glorious Twelfth. It signals the start of the shooting season for red grouse on grouse moors across the UK.

However, not everyone is celebrating.

Grouse moors are unique habitats that support a diverse range of flora and fauna including the magnificent hen harrier.

However, a national census in 2004 estimated a total of just 633 pairs of hen harrier in Scotland. In the most recent survey in 2010 only 505 territorial pairs, a 20% decline from the 2004 survey, were recorded.

In England there are currently only three breeding pairs of hen harrier in suitable habitat that could support an estimated 300 pairs.

It is no coincidence that the hen harrier, a natural predator of the red grouse, is missing from the majority of driven grouse moors in the UK. Unfortunately, gamekeepers’ attitudes to hen harriers and their contempt for the law that protects the birds has changed little over the past 200 years. As a result, Illegal persecution is considered to be the main reason that hen harrier numbers remain so low.

Despite many years of trying to work with managers and keepers on driven grouse moors there is a growing community of conservationists and bird enthusiasts across the UK that are now saying ‘Enough is enough!’.

On Sunday 10 August 2014 the very first Hen Harrier Day was organised in protest against the continued persecution of the hen harrier on driven grouse moors in the UK. The event at Upper Derwent Water in the Peak District National Park, organised by outspoken author and naturalist Mark Avery, attracted nearly 600 participants despite the horrendous weather. Similar events were also well attended in Lancashire, Northumberland and Devon!

The message from Hen Harrier Day seems to be a simple one. The practice of illegally poisoning, trapping and shooting hen harriers needs to stop now.

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