The hen harrier Harold was tagged (#57272) in the Yorkshire Dales in June 2020 and his tag’s last known fix came from a grouse moor in September 2020.
Having once bred throughout the UK, hen harrier populations decreased significantly from around 1830 as a result of land use changes and human persecution.
Last year’s Hen Harrier breeding season was the most successful in over a decade but a continued partnership approach is required to combat illegal persecution of these rare birds.
Hen harriers, like all wild birds, are protected from illegal killing by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Raptor persecution, including of hen harriers, is a national wildlife crime priority and there are strong penalties in place for offences committed against birds of prey.
Natural England is currently working with local police to investigate the missing hen harrier.
Dave Slater, Natural England’s Director for Wildlife Licensing and enforcement cases, said:
Raptor persecution, including of hen harriers, is a national wildlife crime priority and there are strong penalties in place for offences committed against birds of prey. We would urge anyone witnessing or suspecting persecution to contact the police.
While 2020 saw encouraging signs that hen harrier breeding success is increasing in the English uplands, they remain critically endangered in England and persecution is the main factor in why so many birds don’t reach adulthood. We are a committed partner to the Hen Harrier Action Plan to improve the conservation status of this iconic species.
Natural England is working in partnership with a wide range of stakeholders, including moorland communities, conservation organisations, police and landowners to implement the joint Hen Harrier Action Plan which aims to improve the conservation status of this at-risk bird.