Protestors braved a torrential downpour in support of the county’s hen harrier
As grouse shooting season began yesterday on the ‘Glorious Twelfth’, Terry Pickford of the North West Raptor Protection Group, along with members and supporters, gathered at Dunsop Green Village Green to protest against cruelty to the birds of prey.
The group claim the season endangers the existence of Hen Harriers which they allege are persecuted because they prey on red grouse.
Terry said: “Hen harriers are the most threatened bird of prey in the country. We all got soaked but there were about 100 supporters who were appalled at what they heard and were keen to do something about it.
“If we don’t protect the hen harriers now, our grandchildren will never see them in the wild.”
Marking the first national “Hen Harrier Day”, Sunday saw a number of groups protest against what they claim are the killing of the birds.
Terry said: “Ordinary shooters, who have a nine to five job, are appalled at what is happening.
“ I have no problem with legal shooting but what I do have a problem with is the illegal activity that is happening to up the numbers of grouse on the moors.”
A spokesman from the RSPB said: “At the moment there are three nesting pairs of hen harriers in the whole of England, when really, there should be around 300. Two of the nests on the Forest of Bowland site were under 24 hour protection by staff and volunteers at one point.”
Gamekeepers strongly deny the claim that hen harriers are harmed in the management of estates used for shoots.
Grouse shooting days can be held until December 10. Organisers say only the surplus population is shot to ensure a healthy population for the next year.