Thursday, 13 August 2015

Bathing with Hen Harriers

Last Sunday was Hen Harrier Day, which got me thinking again about just how easily an entire species can be wiped from existence.  It's not looking good for Hen Harriers in England at the moment at all, but hopefully the publicity around Hen Harrier Day will be a start in raising awareness and galvanising organisations and the government into offering some meaningful protection for these beautiful birds.

Unfortunately, their preferred breeding areas are moorlands, which rather puts them into conflict with the owners and keepers of grouse moors in our country's uplands.  And raptors of all kinds have been made especially unwelcome in these areas, trapped and killed illegally; the vast majority of the time these crimes go unpunished, if not undetected.  But the scarcity of Hen Harriers has led to some of the very few in England being satellite tagged, which has made their "mysterious" disappearance from the grouse moors very apparent.

But, bad news for the criminals...  Lush have just launched a Skydancer bath bomb, a rather lovely bath treat in homage to the hen harrier.  Not only does this represent the best chance most people have of seeing one of these endangered birds, but all the profits from these avian accompaniments to bath time will be used to fund satellite tagging of hen harriers and perhaps offer a little protection.  Now that's £3.95 well spent in my book, plus which Lush are pretty hot on not testing on animals and keeping their products as natural and chemical-free as possible.  
Bath bombs and satellite tags aside, further action needs to be taken in order to protect our hen harriers.  Dr Mark Avery, a well-known environmentalist, bird-lover and prolific blogger of all things hen harrier, has set up a petition to the government to ban driven grouse shooting, which will eliminate the hen harrier's killers.  Extreme measure?  Not so much when you look into it; there is a host of reasons why the management of grouse moors is bad for the environment as a whole.  For the dubious pleasure of a few rich tweed-clad chaps (and chapesses) (a day shooting grouse is not an affordable pass-time for the vast majority), we see the destruction of blanket bog through burning, illegal persecution of raptors, and a number of negative impacts upon our water course to name but a few.  You can read more about why banning driven grouse shooting is a necessary here.

And here is the link to add your voice to the online petition.  I hope you do!  It's already at over 13000 signatures, which will necessitate a government response.  If it can reach 100,000 then the issue will be debated in parliament.

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