Today it has been announced by Natural England that it has issued a licence allowing the Brood Management Trial Group to take forward Hen Harrier brood management as one of the steps to improving the conservation status of Hen Harriers in England. The Hawk and Owl Trust is one of the members of this group.
The Hawk and Owl Trust works for the conservation of all birds of prey and their habitats in the UK and condemns the continued persecution of these birds. Hen Harriers are almost extinct as a breeding bird in England and the Trust recognises that one of the main reasons behind this is illegal persecution.
Hen Harriers will prey on Red Grouse chicks in upland habitats to feed their own chicks, and this brings them into conflict with land owners and land managers on grouse moors. We believe that brood management trial within the Defra Joint Hen Harrier Action Plan offers the best route whereby this conflict can be resolved. This approach is grounded in an understanding of the science of managing conflicts in conservation.
If, after a five-year trial, there is no evidence that Hen Harrier numbers are increasing as a result of brood management, the Hawk and Owl Trust will back the introduction of licensing of grouse moor management. The Trust sees no reason why Hen Harrier brood management and the licensing of grouse moor management should be mutually exclusive.