Hen harrier project celebrates huge rise in chicks taking to the wing - Moorland Association

A pioneering trial set up to help rebuild the population of the endangered Hen Harrier in England has reared and released 24 chicks this year, almost double last year’s record high of 13.

Hen Harrier numbers have shown continuous improvement in recent years, coinciding with the introduction of the government-led Hen Harrier recovery plan in 2016 and the availability of the brood management trial two years later to alleviate conflict. The trial has seen 82 chicks from 36 broods take to the wing in total.

Monitoring has shown that birds reared in previous years have gone on to successfully breed in the wild as adults, demonstrating that the scheme has not adversely affected their behaviour or ability to breed.

The population of Hen Harriers in England is now at its highest for 100 years. As recently as 2013 there were no chicks fledged at all.

Estates in Yorkshire, Cumbria, Northumberland, Durham and Lancashire have actively participated in the trial with many Moorland Association members hosting other wild nests further boosting the population.

75 per cent of Hen Harrier nests in England are on land managed as grouse moor.

The trial involves eggs and chicks from wild nests being reared for a few weeks at a specialist bird of prey centre before being transported to pens on grouse moors where they are tagged and monitored before being released into the wild, back into the same part of the country that they came from. The trial is conducted under strict licence conditions overseen by Natural England, a Project Board and Scientific Advisory Group.

John Holmes, Natural England Strategy Director, said “The Hen Harrier is an iconic species and it is wonderful to see the progress that has been made towards restoring it to our uplands. Partnership working is the key to ensuring we protect our rarest species and help nature recover, with the enormous benefits for wildlife and people this brings.”

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Posted On: 17/08/2023

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