Hen harrier soaring over moorland

Another tagged hen harrier disappears from our moors

Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust is very disappointed and concerned by recent news that the RSPB have confirmed the loss of another satellite-tagged hen harrier in our area.

The bird named Anu was reported missing, shortly after having roosted on a grouse moor in Upper Midhope, Sheffield. His tag showed unusual activity, followed by signals suggesting Anu was dead. The bird has never been found. Police confirmed the recovered tag had been cut but criminal investigation has failed to identify those responsible.

This news follows the similar disappearance in 2018 of another satellite-tagged hen harrier, Octavia, over the nearby Broomhead grouse shooting moor, just south of Upper Midhope. There have been many other confirmed raptor persecution incidents over the past 10 years – including the shooting of a goshawk and the confirmed poisoning of a raven, both also in the local area to these disappearances in 2018.

Liz Ballard, CEO at Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust said: “This is extremely disappointing news, especially as it happened in such close proximity and strikingly similar circumstances to the disappearance of hen harrier Octavia in 2018.”

A scientific paper published in 2019 looked at whether the disappearances or deaths of hen harriers, a protected species, are associated with grouse moors, using data obtained from satellite-tagged hen harriers. The study found that as hen harriers’ use of grouse moors increased, so did the likelihood of their dying or disappearing – concluding that these elevated levels of mortality on grouse moors were “most likely the result of illegal killing”.

The Trust are asking people to be extra vigilant for signs of raptor persecution and other wildlife crimes when out enjoying the moors. If you witness a wildlife crime taking place, call 999 and ask to speak to a Wildlife Crime Officer. Tell them what you have seen and where, ask for an incident number and if you feel safe to do so, try to take photos or record a video as evidence.

For more information about wildlife crime and how you can help, visit our reporting wildlife crime page.

Hen harrier ©Mark Hamblin/2020VISION