One of England’s rarest raptors, is facing extinction. Circus cyaneus, commonly known as the Hen Harrier (and other names), is being reported in “disastrous decline” by The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). In 2003 there were 22 pairs in England. Last year only eight were recorded, all located in the Forest of Bowland, Lancashire.
The count was so low in 2002 that English Nature set up the Hen Harrier Recovery Project. Their efforts led to a slight increase in population in 2003, but numbers have since declined. The hen harrier faces opposition from landowners and hunters because it eats chicks of the red grouse, a heavily-hunted game bird. English Nature has had reports of hen harriers being shot, some sustaining wing injuries.
The Association of Chief Police Officers launched Operation Artemis to provide information and help enforce current laws protecting the hen harrier. Anyone spotting one of these birds should use their website to report the sighting.
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