Member was one of the volunteers protecting the bird in its nest

Sheffield Green Party has expressed its concern at the disappearance and apparent death of the young hen harrier “Olivia”, which fledged from a nest in the Peak District this summer, protected by a dedicated team of volunteers.

This was the first time these magnificent birds, which are suffering from acute, illegal persecution, had successfully nested in the Peak District in four years.

Natalie Bennett speaking at Hen Harrier Day
Natalie Bennett at Hen Harrier Day in Edale in 2016

Dr Cathleen Thomas, Hen Harrier LIFE project manager at the RSPB, reported that Olivia was just one of three young hen harriers that has disappeared under suspicious circumstances since leaving the nest, fitted with sophisticated satellite trackers, which normally keep transmitting and are found if the birds die due to natural causes.(1)

Bob Berzins, who was one of the volunteers protecting the nest, and author of a report for Sheffield Green Party earlier this year titled Report from the Front Line: What’s Happening on Moors near Sheffield, said: “Yet again we are seeing a sadly familiar pattern. Olivia’s tag stopped transmitting just four days after she left the immediate area of her home nest, and the last known location was over an area of land managed for driven grouse shooting at Broomhead. It is a similar story with the other two missing harriers.

“There should be 300 breeding pairs of hen harriers in England, yet this year there were just nine, and already we are seeing loss of the young birds from those nests.

“Sheffielders are being deprived of the opportunity to see these magnificent ‘sky dancers’ and our uplands depleted – removing opportunities too for small businesses and communities to benefit from the tourism they would attract.”

Natalie Bennett, former Green Party leader who lives in Sheffield, said: “I’ve joined campaigners including Chris Packham and Mark Avery for several years now in calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting. This is an industry that’s linked to the illegal slaughter of raptors, but also the vast legal but highly disturbing slaughter of mountain hares and corvids, stouts, weasels and foxes, all to produce maximum numbers of grouse for shooting on and after the Inglorious Twelfth of August.

“Driven grouse shooting is also associated with land management practices that increase the risk of flooding and reduce carbon storage. We are all paying a high price for this so-called ‘sport’ that a few engage in.”

Notes

(1) The RSPB report http://ww2.rspb.org.uk/community/ourwork/skydancer/b/skydancer/archive/2018/09/13/three-more-hen-harriers-disappear-suddenly.aspx

(2) Sheffield Green Party’s report https://sheffieldgreenparty.org.uk/2018/08/09/sheffield-greens-release-report-about-destruction-and-slaughter-on-the-moors/

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