Saturday, 29 January 2011

Persecution is the word.

Snow Bunting. Copyright Granted.

But first an excellent photograph of the Snow Bunting which put in appearance at Cockersands on Thursday - whilst I was flogging 'a dead horse' on the Bowland uplands - I was forwarded a few pics of the bird for which I am truly grateful.

Having spent five hours on Thursday in the glorious - not strictly speaking on this particular occasion - Forest of Bowland, I was as always on visits to this outstanding area of natural beauty, inclined to have the magnificent Hen Harrier (HH)  in the back of my mind. If you find yourself in an elevated position in the Forest of Bowland overlooking a panoramic view you get the true value of how vast this place really is, a place which has enough habitat to hold 300 pairs of this truly wonderful bird, yet in 2010 only 12 pairs of HH bred in England in its entirety seven of which were successful and five of which were on the United Utilities Estate which remains Englands only stronghold for this bird. There are some graphic illustrations to be found which clearly point to this bird of prey with its small population slipping into extinction for the second time, historically the HH was persecuted to extinction across mainland Britain having been a bird formerly widespread in the UK, but its range was restricted through persecution to Orkney and the Outer Hebrides by 1900.

Thursdays sight of at least 12 uniform vehicles in make/model/and colour driving past me in the Trough of Bowland - reasonably obvious returning from a shoot - helped bring home to me just how 'big and powerful' the 'Shooting Industry' really is, the persecution of the HH is linked to land management for driven-grouse shooting and is unquestionably the main reason for the 'missing pairs'. It has to be said, even though birds of prey are now fully protected by law, persecution remains worryingly common and enforcement of these laws protecting our birds of prey are clearly not working.

Scotland appears to currently have a good environment minister who has made moves to hold to account - by fines or imprisonment - those landowners who manage staff who are convicted of killing birds of prey in Scotland. Now that the future of the HH in England hangs in the balance once again, all necessary measures need to be considered to prevent this bird being lost to persecution for ever.

Perhaps our Environment Minister should now follow the suit of Scotland on this one....I'll drop a line off in the post tomorrow!

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Warren Baker said...

All very sad Pete :-( will things ever change ?

Pete Woodruff said...

Thanks for comment again Warren....short but to the point. As for your question, I'm a realist and the answer is NO.

I've had an excellent e-mail as a result of this post which I'm not at liberty to elaborate upon at the moment....but watch this space!