After four years of delay, a public petition and no small amount of debate, the Hen Harrier Joint Action Plan has finally been published.
Developed by Defra in conjunction with RSPB, GWCT, Moorland Association, National Gamekeepers’ Organisation and the National Parks, the Plan sets out six practical steps to increase the critically low number of Hen Harriers in England. These are:
1. Monitor hen harrier numbers in England and the UK via satellite tagging and tracking;
2. Share best practice with land managers and gamekeepers, encouraging the provision of food for birds of prey;
3. Work closely with the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG) to analyse intelligence on persecution and deliver more effective enforcement and deterrence measures;
4. Monitor and protect nests and winter roosts from disturbance and destruction;
5. Work with landowners to reintroduce hen harriers to suitable areas in the South of England; and
6. Scope out feasibility for trialling brood management.
Although implementation details are as yet incomplete, and some stakeholders still have reservations about particular steps of the Plan, this publication represents real hope for the Hen Harrier, which is currently the most threatened bird of prey in England.