Friday, 4 January 2013

Here Kitti, kitti, kitti...

The Safari came upon worrying news yesterday about the possible merger of Natural England and the Environment Agency which has now been compounded . Seems like the powers that be are getting rid of anything that might stand in the way of making more rich people more money by riding roughshod over anything that stands in their way, and that more than likely includes you and me too.
Before Christmas we were compelled to write to our MP and MEP asking them to take the Secretary of State to task for the woeful state of Hen Harriers in England.
Now that the holidays are over the replies are coming in.

Dear Mr McGrath,

Thank you for your email regarding England’s Hen Harrier population crisis.

Mr Griffin has asked me to reply to you on his behalf.

Please accept my apologies for the delay in replying to you. Mr Griffin's email account has been inundated with mail and it has taken some time to work through them.

Mr Griffin is extremely sympathetic to your plight with respect to the preservation of our remaining Hen Harrier population having gained considerable pleasure from the successful hatching of young ospreys near his home last year, in addition to this his main researcher is a keen ornithologist who only last summer spent hours watching hen harriers, both male and female, hunting over the Isle Of Islay.

Therefore as per your email request I am pleased to state that the below letter from Mr Griffin has been issued to David Morris MP and Caroline Spelman Secretary of State for Environment.

I would also like to take this opportunity to draw your attention to Nick’s ‘Save our Seals’ campaign, which contains protective measures towards cormorants, details of which can be found on his official MEP website here:

Email drafted to David Morris MP and Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for Environment, stating:

“I write to you with respect to the unacceptable situation regarding England’s remaining Hen Harrier population.

It has been brought to my attention that in June this year one of these birds of prey known as Bowland Betty, who was raised in the Forest of Bowland and fitted with a satellite tag, was found shot dead in the Yorkshire dales.

The Forest of Bowland is the UK’s only home of nesting hen harriers and there are only a handful of breeding pairs living there. These birds are an integral part of our Natural Heritage and I therefore request your intervention in ensuring their conservation and preservation so that future generations may also be allowed the pleasure of watching these spectacular birds in action in their natural habitat.

Of all birds of prey, the Hen Harrier is the most heavily persecuted in relation to population size in the UK. The species has an unfavourable conservation status in Europe, is a red-listed UK Bird of Conservation Concern and appears on government’s section 41 list of priority species. It is also listed on Annex 1 of the EU Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds (1979) and Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981).

The UK Hen Harrier population has long been adversely affected by habitat loss and irrefutable evidence of persecution and we have to face the fact that while commercial grouse shooting remains as a widespread land use in northern England then the hen harrier will always remain an endangered species – or worse, become extinct in England, therefore as the Secretary of State for the Environment can you please advise what future plans are in place to help protect this rapidly depleting historic bird of prey.”

Kind regards

Nicolle Yates
Community Outreach Officer
For Nick Griffin, MEP
Note - this has now been forwarded to Owen Patterson not Caroline Spelman as indicated; missed the EU seal murdering thing too back in September...what were we saying yesterday about becoming more political, this is a case in point someone (= us) has to stand up for nature.

Also had a reply from our constituency MP, Paul Maynard (Con),a real letter on real paper so here is a verbatum copy
Dear Mr McGrath

Thank you for your recent correspondence concerning the shooting of Hen Harriers.

There is already a number of measures in place to help protect our wild birds for example, under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 it is an offence to kill or injure any wild bird or damage their nests or eggs.  As well as this, due to their rarity, Hen Harriers also receive 'Schedule 1' status, meaning that it is an arrestable offence to disturb them whilst they are building or are in their nest.

The problem therefore is enforcing existing laws to protect hen Harriers. Unfortunately, enforcing the laws can be exceptionally difficult to do; this is due to the birds isolated habitats which are often on private land. However, in recognition of their importance and the challenges that are faced in bringing prosecutions, DETFAdesignated raptor persecution as one of its 6 wildlife crime priorities, with Hen Harrier being further designated as one of 6 species highlighted for particular attention.

The government does work hard at prosecuting wildlife crime, and has a designated Wildlife Crime Unit which looks specifically at combating wildlife crime. However, as I have said dealing with these issues is far from easy, and whilst it is important to do what we can to enforce existing laws it is also important to do what we can to help boost their population levels. This is why DEFRA officials have established a group that works with stakeholders to consider which actions can best secure the future of the Hen harrier and reverse the decline in their population.

Thank you once again for contacting me, if you have any comments or feel that there is anything else you wish to raise with me, then please do not hesitate to get back in touch

Yours sincerely
Paul Maynard

Make of those what you will but note that the second letter specifically mentions the Wildlife Crime Unit

Back on the twitching front an adult Kittiwake (67, 18) joined a few Common Gulls watching something in the water intently but nothing materialsed. Very little else was out there in the gloom.
Walking to the Land Rover to go home we disturbed a Pied Wagtail (P2 #19) off the cafe's patio area.
Once back at Base Camp we waited for the arrival of Wifey and Frank. They got home late and he was eager to get out. On his walk we spotted the Peregrine (68) roosting on the tower.
Where to next? A visit up north to see some friends tomorrow, they get some good stuff on their feeders from time to time, wonder what'll drop by tomorrow while we're having a good ole chinwag.
In the meantime let us know what's trying to hide in the gloom in your outback.

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