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Encouraging population growth for hen harriers as 141 chicks recorded in 2023

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Hen Harrier chick

There has been coverage across national and regional outlets, including on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, the Independent and the Eastern Daily Press reporting on hen harrier breeding figures for the 2023 season as announced by Natural England (Saturday 16 September).

141 chicks fledged successfully in 2023 which is the seventh successive year of population growth recorded. 54 nests were observed across the upland areas of England including County Durham, Cumbria, Lancashire and Northumberland. Northumberland had the highest number of nesting attempts with 17 recorded in total.

Hen harriers were driven to extinction across mainland Britain during the 19th century as the result of illegal persecution and disturbance, only beginning to recolonise during the 1960’s. Just a decade ago there were no hen harriers nesting successfully in England.

Despite this progress, illegal killing of birds of prey remains a serious and ongoing issue which Natural England is working alongside the police and National Wildlife Crime Unit to tackle.

Natural England Chair Tony Juniper said:

The continuing year on year increase in the number of hen harriers fledging from English nests is fantastic to see, and shows how through partnership work it is possible to reverse Nature’s decline, even in the most challenging of circumstances. The encouraging numbers we see again this year are testament to the volunteers, landowners and partner organisations who have worked so hard to support and monitor these birds.

Today’s news is, however, overshadowed by continuing illegal persecution, which despite all the good practice among many landowners still stubbornly persists. We know that much more needs to be done to protect these precious birds and remain absolutely committed to working with our partners to stamp out the despicable killing of these wonderful creatures that bring so much joy to so many people. We will continue to work hard, improving monitoring and conservation management to achieve long term recovery.

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  1. Comment by Scott mckenna posted on

    Nobody cares deal with the real problem in life

  2. Comment by John W Baxter posted on

    How encouraging to read about success, as small as that may be , with such a fragile balance on the uplands and in the lowlands of Norfolk where the large estates show their ugly side in the low increase in raptor population and increasing populations of game birds.
    Funny thing Nature.
    It will be good to see an improvement in the number of raptors present in sporting estates without human intervention in future, but it is now time to celebrate success without avian flu.