The UK habitat will support hundreds of hen harriers. They were once a common sight. In reality there are now very few.
They have been protected by law since 1954. Numbers have not increased since then.
There are many instances of individual hen harriers simply disappearing, even when tracked electronically.
Despite this, the RSPB and many volunteers is making heroic efforts to increase numbers.
The hen harrier is emblematic of the problem in England for all raptors including eagles.
It is believed that gamekeepers on driven grouse shooting moors are responsible for killing the birds.
When evidence was gathered and individuals prosecuted the case was dismissed on a technicality.
Driven grouse shooting is a sport for the rich, or rich wannabees. It has support in high places in the UK establishment.
Essentially, driven grouse shooting is incompatible with healthy populations of raptors, or so gamekeepers appear to think.
If that is the attitude, then ultimately the only solution would appear to be another law – to ban driven grouse shooting. This would have other environmental benefits, such as reduced flooding after heavy rains in the north of England.
Note this is a problem that can be solved with the will to do so. See for example the success with red kite populations in Wales.
These are my impressions from the Hen Harrier Day at Parkgate on 12 August 2018. Hen Harrier Days are usually held on or around the so-called glorious twelfth when the carnage begins. Go to one, and support the RSPB and other organisations involved.
Feature image shows speaker Mark Avery at the event
Photo of hen harrier by Len Blumin, via Wikimedia Commons