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Hen harriers close to extinction in England
5:00pm Saturday 10th August 2013 in News
HEN harriers are close to extinction in England after the country's only two nesting pairs failed to breed, the RSPB have said.
The organisation said that the species, whose last remaining strong-hold is thought to be in the Bowland Fells, failed to nest in England for the first time since the 1960s.
The announcement comes after a new study identified that the control of predators such as foxes and crows, carried out to protect red grouse, can benefit rare hen harriers.
The study, which was conducted by the Game and Wildlife Conservation trust, shows how grouse moor management can help hen harriers by protecting them from predators and boosting its natural moorland food supply.
Martin Harper, the RSPB’s conservation director, said: “The hen harrier is one of our most charismatic birds of prey enjoyed by many visitors to the uplands.
“The latest news is a huge set-back and only a victory for those who want to see this bird of prey disappear from England’s skies, but we will continue to fight to ensure that this bird has a future in some of our most iconic landscapes.”
Dr David Baines, the conservation trust’s upland director of research and lead author of the study, said: “It is known that hen harriers can increase to densities whereby they reduce numbers of grouse and thus cause a moor to become financially unviable.
“Devising techniques that can be put in place to reduce the impact of harriers on grouse would mean that harriers could breed more successfully on grouse moors where their natural predators such as carrion crows, hooded crows and red foxes, which predate clutches, chicks or even adults, are legally killed by gamekeepers on grouse moors to optimise grouse stocks.”
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