Natural England in row with RSPB over protection of hen harriers as

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. I love these birds. Each winter we get a few in Cambridgeshire & l’m always delighted to see them. Hopefully this work will contribute to the overall plan to rebuild their numbers in England, & in future we will see more of them, not only in winter but thriving where they nest.— Tony Juniper (@TonyJuniper) June 6, 2019 Natural England added that French conservationists have successfully been using a similar technique for Montagu’s harrier to move birds away from prime agricultural land. Mark Avery, a former RSPB chief who now runs conservation charity Wild Justice, also poured scorn on the plans, telling The Telegraph the scheme is “wrong, wrong, wrong.” He added: “It will be very interesting to see which grouse moors are participating and what are their credentials for raptor conservation.”The UK’s top bird blog, Rare Bird Alert, condemned the idea, adding that it serves to “placate wildlife criminals.”In a message to the Chair of Natural England, Tony Juniper, the blog wrote: “Hen Harrier brood meddling is completely flawed. Surely deep down you cannot support this? Why not call for a review now you are chair?”Mr Juniper said of the scheme: “Conservation and protection of the hen harrier is at the heart of what we are doing in licensing this trial of brood management. This decision takes forward but one element in a far broader recovery strategy for the species.“Natural England is ready to take the next careful step, aware that the licensed activity and the research will rightly come under close scrutiny from the scientists on the advisory group, from ourselves as the licensing authority and by those both  supportive of and opposed to this trial.“We, as an organisation, must pursue all options for an important bird such as the hen harrier, so that our children may enjoy this majestic species in the wild.”  Natural England is embroiled in a row with the RSPB over a plan to remove hen harrier eggs and chicks from nests and relocate them in order to protect the rare birds from poachers.The quango has plans to remove hen harrier eggs and/or chicks to a dedicated hatching and rearing facility, where they will be hand-reared in captivity.Birds will then be transferred to specially-constructed pens in a hen harrier breeding habitat, from which they are then re-introduced into the wild in the uplands of northern England.Currently, the endangered bird of prey faces threats from illegal persecution, as it is poached to protect grouse.Chris Corrigan, RSPB England Director, condemned the plans, and told The Telegraph:  “This is disappointing to hear. As we’ve said all along, brood management is the wrong tool to help restore hen harriers to their rightful place across the English landscape. “The RSPB believes the first step in hen harrier recovery should be the ending of illegal persecution. The evidence is now clear that this is the main reason driving the decline of this iconic bird.”Earlier this  year, the bird charity launched a legal bid against Natural England to block it from making this decision. However, in March, it was announced that they had lost the case.

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