RSPB caught blocking reintroduction of the Hen Harrier

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The RSPB has been caught undermining Defra’s Brood management scheme with recent emails sourced from the Countryside Alliance. The Scheme was designed to take Hen Harrier chicks to be hand reared and then moved to appropriate habitats. Part of the Scheme required the importation of birds from Europe to speed up the process. This should have been a fairly straight forward process, but it seems not all parties are pulling in the same direction.

The leaked emails have shown that the work of the RSPB has been counterproductive to the initiative. When Natural England began to finalise the agreement they were met with a joint response. This was in part from the partners abroad and included input from the RSPB. Ultimately, the RSPB interjected that the persecution of Hen Harriers made the scheme unlikely to succeed.

Hen Harrier landing on a rock

After having the funding and infrastructure in place the plan came to a sudden halt. The RSPB had said that they weren’t going to intervene in the scheme but the redacted emails prove otherwise. The Countryside Alliance has commented and made a statement.

Adrian Blackmore, Director of Shooting for the Countryside Alliance said: “Given that The RSPB undertake bird reintroductions themselves, and are supportive of the current Osprey reintroduction project in Poole Harbour, the proposed white-tailed sea eagle reintroduction to the Isle of Wight, and are directly involved with the golden eagle reinforcement programme in the south of Scotland where ongoing persecution is still problematic, their opposition to the reintroduction of hen harrier into Southern England is quite extraordinary.”

Hen Harrier looking from a mound

Ultimately this leaves the RSPB on a knife edge with what their objectives are. Either they are against the reintroduction of the Hen Harrier in the UK with help from European partners or divulge on why it’s so resistant to the project. The current actions have only served to slow any momentum to this scheme. Gamekeepers have been creating suitable habitats for a long time so it seems the narrative on bad gamekeepers may not hold water for much longer.

The Scheme outlaid by Defra is rather clear in its purpose. The Scheme aims to benefit both the Harriers and grouse moors so they can live harmoniously. Taking the endangered Birds to new territories where they can live uncontested would only have benefited the birds themselves. The South of England offered this in abundance with plenty of land and small mammals available to them. The Involvement of the RSPB has put the brakes on this scheme and without a change of tune looks unlikely to continue.

Hen Harrier Chick being handled

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