Harrier troubles

A hen harrier tagged by the RSPB went missing near a grouse moor on 12 August, reigniting the war of words between the charity and shooters. The RSPB’s Ian Thomson was quoted by the BBC saying the bird: “joins the growing list of satellite-tagged birds of prey that have disappeared, in highly suspicious circumstances, almost exclusively in areas intensively managed for grouse shooting.”

Shooting groups responded quickly, with a spokesman for the Scottish Gamekeeper’s Association saying: “The SGA condemns raptor persecution and if any of our members are convicted of a wildlife crime they are removed from our organisation.

“We have learned from those monitoring tags that birds can move some distance away from where they were last recorded so it is important that, if people know anything, they alert the police immediately.”

Scottish Land and Estates expressed frustration that they had not been informed that the bird’s tag had stopped transmitting, leaving them unable to aid in the search for the bird. David Fyffe, of their North East branch, hit out at the RSPB’s ‘guilty until proven innocent’ approach to shooting estates. “It is deeply disappointing that estates, and specifically grouse moors, are being portrayed as the cause of missing satellite-tagged hen harrier Calluna,” he said.

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