Record-breaking year for hen harrier breeding

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Hen harriers have enjoyed a record year for breeding success in England, Natural England has announced today.

2019 has been a highly successful year for the iconic bird of prey in England, with a total of 15 nests producing 15 successful breeding pairs and 47 chicks – improving on the previous highpoint of 46 set in 2006.

The positive result means the last two years have produced 81 fledged chicks, surpassing the total for the previous five years put together (55). The chicks have also hatched in a wider variety of areas this year, including in Northumberland, Yorkshire Dales, Nidderdale, Derbyshire and Lancashire – leading to hopes that a corner has been turned in the restoration of the hen harrier population.

Tony Juniper, Chairman of Natural England, said:

I’d like to thank all of the organisations, staff and volunteers who’ve helped to make this a better breeding season for one of England’s most iconic birds.

While it is very welcome to see this improvement, we must remember that the hen harrier is still very far from where it should be as a breeding species in England, not least due to illegal persecution.

I will be working with Natural England colleagues to pursue all options for the recovery of this wonderful bird, a creature that inspires and brings joy to so many people. It would be a tragic loss for our country, children and grandchildren if this majestic bird was to remain so scarce, or even disappear, in the future.

Once again a wide range of organisations have come together to work in partnership to make sure that the hen harrier chicks are well looked after and protected for the future. This collective effort has helped improve the communication and liaison between land managers.

This includes: Natural England, RSPB, Forestry Commission, the Moorland Association, United Utilities, the National Trust, Hawk and Owl Trust, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Northumberland National Park Authority, Peak District National Park Authority, Nidderdale & Forest of Bowland Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, local police forces, individual Estates and their keepers, farmers, and a large number of volunteer raptor enthusiasts.

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