EU protection for Bowland’s hen harriers

Hen harrier Hope is one of the tagged birds that disappeared from Bowland.
Hen harrier Hope is one of the tagged birds that disappeared from Bowland.

Endangered hen harriers nesting in the Forest of Bowland will benefit from a five-year EU conservation project.

Hen harriers are one of the most threatened birds of prey in Europe, and the Bowland ones recently suffered a setback when two young birds that had been tagged disappeared.

Their fate is still unknown, but it is now thought that of the 16 chicks fledged across the UK in 2014 only nine are still alive.

Now the birds will enjoy greater protection under the LIFE+ programme, which 
offers practical conservation measures coupled with an awareness and education programme about the importance of preserving hen harrier populations.

The project is co-ordinated by the RSPB and funded by the European Union.

It aims to build on the success of the award-winning 
local Skydancer project, which raises awareness of the hen harriers’ plight.

Blanaid Denman, project manager of Hen Harrier LIFE+, said: “Hen harriers are in dire straits. Numbers are declining dramatically and urgent action is needed, which is why this European-funded project is both welcome and timely. The cross-border project provides a huge boost to our efforts to monitor and protect hen harriers.

“Working together with volunteers and other organisations, we’ll have more eyes and ears on the hills than ever before, using satellite tagging, winter roost monitoring and nest protection to deter persecution, identify the important areas for these birds and highlight where they’re most at risk.”

Dr James Robinson, the RSPB’s head of nature policy, said: “This EU LIFE+ funding means the RSPB and our partners can step up to do even more to stamp out the criminal acts that threaten the future of the iconic hen harrier.

“Actions speak louder than words and the RSPB is rolling up its sleeves to do the things that will secure a safe future for this ‘ghost of the moor’.”