Conservationists have urged the public to help stop raptor persecution after a successful breeding season for rare hen harriers.
Natural England says it has recorded the best year for hen harrier breeding in England since its hen harrier recovery project was established in 2002, with 60 chicks fledged from 19 nests across the North of England, including six nests in the Yorkshrie Dales.
Ian McPherson, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority member champion for natural environment, said it was great to see that more hen harriers had bred this year.
“Within the Yorkshire Dales National Park itself we know of six nesting attempts, the highest in decades, two of which were brood managed.
“But while it’s good to see the steady improvement – with more nesting attempts each year – there is still a long way to go.”
Tony Juniper, Chairman of Natural England, observed: “Too many birds still go missing in unexplained circumstances. Hen harriers remain critically endangered in England and there is a long way to go before the population returns to what it should be”.
Four of this year’s satellite-tagged young birds are already missing fate unknown.
This includes a female that was tagged in the Yorkshire Dales on June 4.
Mr McPherson said: “The Yorkshire Dales is an important area for hen harriers outside the breeding season as well, with birds from across the country coming to winter on the moors and fells.
“It’s crucial that these birds not only have safe nesting sites, but also survive the winter, hopefully to breed next year. We want to keep these stunning birds in our skies – where they belong – and we’re appealing to the public to help us stamp out raptor persecution once and for all.”
All birds of prey are protected by law and killing them is a criminal offence.
The public is being urged to look out for hen harriers in the Yorkshire Dales this autumn and winter.
If you see any harriers, report them to the hen harrier hotline on 0845 460 0121 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr McPherson added: “Finally, if you see anything suspicious or have a concern about a possible wildlife crime, you can call the Police on 101 and ask for the details to be passed on to a Wildlife Crime Officer.
“If you witness a suspected wildlife crime in action, call 999 immediately and ask for the police.”
For more information visit www.operationowl.com