Park authority to give evidence on bird of prey persecution

Hen harriers have successfully fledged in the park for the first time.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority will present data on birds of prey persecution in the park at a Northern England Raptor Forum open day in Grassington tomorrow.

Wildlife officer Ian Court will be one of seven expert speakers at the free Devonshire Institute event.

As well as presenting the authority’s recent birds of prey evidence report, he will speak about a new objective in the draft Yorkshire Dales Management Plan.

The objective commits the organisations that sign up to the plan to work with landowners and land managers to achieve and maintain sustainable populations of raptors such as hen harrier and merlin by 2025.

The authority’s chief executive, David Butterworth, said reaction to recent news that hen harriers had fledged in the national park for the first time since 2007, while a red kite had been found shot dead near Bolton Abbey, showed there was a lot of work to be done:

“Some people have reacted to the reports of a successful nesting attempt of hen harriers as if all the problems of persecution and expanding the breeding range have been resolved.

“Others have been so negative as to barely acknowledge what has happened as a ‘good thing’.

“That is disappointing and is probably reflective of the lack of trust between many involved in these issues.  From our point of view, we won’t be getting into either of these ‘trenches’ throwing barbs at each other.

“Our only concern is to assist in the efforts to stop criminal persecution and to see more of these magnificent birds in the national park.

“Anything that gets in the way of that objective is an indulgence.”

The Northern England Raptor Forum has said it is hosting tomorrow’s event in Grassington to help raise public awareness of the levels of illegal persecution faced by raptors in northern England.