Opinion Former Article

BASC welcomes hen harrier licence?

BASC has welcomed an announcement by Natural England today that it has issued a licence permitting the trial of a brood management scheme for hen harriers.

The licence is time-limited for a 2-year period and places stringent conditions on the trial, which will take place in the northern uplands of England. Brood management will only take place with the permission of the landowner.

Brood management is the sixth action within the Defra Hen Harrier Recovery Plan, ultimately aiming to reduce hen harrier predation of grouse chicks on driven grouse moors, leading to an improvement in the conservation status of the hen harrier.

BASC chairman Peter Glenser said: “BASC has long advocated a form of brood management and reintroduction as the key to resolving conflicts with the aim of increasing hen harrier numbers across England.

“The licence is a pragmatic solution to the conflict which exists in our uplands.  Although there is much work still to be done, we believe the scheme should build confidence and contribute towards ensuring the future of hen harriers.”

The licence permits the removal of hen harrier eggs and/or chicks to a dedicated hatching and rearing facility, where they will be hand-reared in captivity, before being transferred to specially-constructed pens in hen harrier breeding habitat. They are then re-introduced into the wild in the uplands of northern England. This intervention may only occur where hen harrier nests have reached an agreed density.

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