Record number of hen harrier nests in Yorkshire Dales

Hen harrier.

A record number of hen harrier nests were recorded in the Yorkshire Dales in 2023.

The latest Bird of Prey evidence report detailing bird of prey populations in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Nidderdale National Landscape reveals there were 15 hen harrier nesting attempts across the area in 2023.

This represents the highest number of nesting attempts recorded in the area.

In 2022, there were ten hen harrier nesting attempts across the area with six of those proving successful.

In addition, at least two pairs of marsh harriers were observed nest building in Nidderdale in 2022 with at least one brood of young fledged.

This represents the first successful breeding in the area for this species.

However, officials say that despite the best efforts of partners and many landowners to engage in bird of prey conservation, there were six confirmed persecution incidents recorded in the Yorkshire Dales National Park in 2022, compared to ten confirmed incidents within both protected landscapes in 2020 and seven in 2021.

Data for 2023 will be released later this year.

Additionally, Natural England report 11 tagged hen harriers as ‘missing fate unknown’ across the area in 2022 and 2023.

David Butterworth, chief executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said: “I applaud the efforts of local landowners who are undertaking bird of prey conversation across the National Park and it’s hugely encouraging to see Natural England reporting the growth in hen harriers at a 200-year high in England.

“However, persecution still persists and birds are still going missing so we mustn’t kid ourselves that it’s job done. We will continue to work with partners and others to finally see an end to the mindless killing of these incredible birds”.

Killing birds of prey is illegal. Anyone with concerns about a possible wildlife crime should call 101, and anyone witnessing a suspected wildlife crime should call 999 and ask for the Police.


1 Comment

  1. As the Executive Summary in this report clearly states:
    “the overall persecution figures in the YDNP and NNL for 2022 may not directly be
    comparable to those for previous years”

    In other words, it cautions strongly against making the kind of claim this headline makes, and explains in detail why this is so.

    The report makes it clear that the figures for hen harriers are not directly comparable with previous years, the figures for persecution are almost certainly under-reported and no figures are presented for bird of prey species other than hen harriers. The reader can draw their own conclusions as to why this is so.

    The report itself is heavily influenced by pro-shooting lobbies – so much so that the RSPB has withdrawn from the panel that produced it.

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