Hen Harrier Day – comment

Tayside Police wildlife crime officers, RSPB, Perthshire schools and Perthshire upland estates engaged in an educational project in 1993.

Tayside Police wildlife crime officers, RSPB, Perthshire schools and Perthshire upland estates engaged in an educational project in 1993.

Our hen harrier educational project won an award jointly sponsored by SNH and Grampian Television. Donny Munro of Runrig presented me with the award in a televised ceremony at the Grampian TV Studios in Aberdeen.

Our hen harrier educational project won an award jointly sponsored by SNH and Grampian Television. Donny Munro of Runrig presented me with the award in a televised ceremony at the Grampian TV Studios in Aberdeen.

‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’

Well done to the folks who braved the rain today at the Derwent Dam, Bowland and elsewhere on a day that will be well remembered as Hen Harrier Day.  Particular thanks are due to Chris Packham, Mark Avery, Birders against Wildlife Crime, Raptor Politics and anyone else who was instrumental in organising and encouraging attendance at the event.  This peaceful demonstration served two functions. Firstly it should make many more people aware that the hen harrier has been killed off almost to the point of extinction as a breeding species in England. Awareness-raising of issues such as this is so important and hopefully a much larger proportion of the population will now be aware of this environmental scandal.  Secondly it demonstrates that most of the UK public who are already well aware of the trapping, shooting, nest disturbance and possibly poisoning of hen harriers are sick to the teeth of it.

Despite the energy and enthusiasm of Hen Harrier Day I have doubts that it will have the success that we all hope for. My experience of and discussions with some landowners, sporting agents and head gamekeepers over the years suggests to me they think either that the law does not apply to them or that the chances of them being caught and convicted are so slim as to be discounted. It is unfortunate for those in similar positions who run their estates within the law that they are saddled with criminals in their midst, sometimes even on a neighbouring estate.

I have suggested in earlier blogs options to deal with the killing of hen harriers and other protected species so there is no need to repeat them. The passionate souls who showed their contempt for those who break wildlife law by peacefully demonstrating in horrendous weather on Hen Harrier Day deserve the best possible support from the UK Government and the Scottish Government. My pessimism is maybe borne of nearly 50 years crime-fighting but unless there is a quick turn-around by the criminals involved in killing hen harriers I suspect Mark Avery’s petition to ban driven grouse shooting will gather momentum. If it does, and if it has the outcome Mark and many others seek, those involved in this industry can blame no-one but themselves.

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