Wednesday 17 November 2010

Sheep eat hen harriers

An amazing admission by RSPB Scotland is reported on the Raptor Politics blog. On Orkney, between 1973 and the 1990s, the number of breeding female hen harriers crashed from 100 to just 3. That's right, a 97% drop. And not a gamekeeper in sight.

The crash is attributed to grazing by sheep - numbers doubled during the 1980s in response to CAP subsidies. Now the CAP subsidies have been reformed, sheep numbers have fallen again, and harriers are recovering.

Of course the RSPB still manage to get in the obligatory broadside: "Illegal disturbance and killing continues to be the main barrier to this beautiful bird returning to many parts of the country where it should be commonplace."

Nothing to do with excessive numbers of deer, sheep, etc then. Or militant do-gooders stravaiging all over the place during the breeding season. It's all the fault of those ghastly posh people and their wicked gamekeepers (cue green smoke, audience hisses).


Alan Tilmouth said...


vicky said...

Why can't the RSPB work with the shooting community? Many times on this blog our shared ground has been laid out but time and again the RSPB comes back and kicks us in our metaphorical bollocks.

There was no need to bring up alleged and proven poisoning by keepers in a report on other causes of Hen Harrier decline. If the RSPB would look more holistically at the UK environment maybe it would find real answers. Ban gameshooting tomorrow and would hen harriers flourish? Probably not. The land must earn it's keep; so more sheep perhaps, maybe it would be put to crop production, or forestry. None of hese help the hen harrier. It would be much more useful if the RSPB could give realistic advice on living with BOP to landowners and gamekeepers who don't realise the birds need not ruin their shoots or threaten their livestock but instead they choose to play the 'them' and 'us' game and drive away the only people that can save some of our most rare birds.