Yorkshire water cancels grousemoor leases

Yorkshire Water is reviewing the future of grouse shooting moors it owns in Calderdale. Following news that the Government now believes the RSPB line that grousemoors are widespread killers of hen harriers, the utility firm said it would review the future management of Baitings, Turley Holes and Higher House Moors, which spread along the South Pennines between Todmorden and Ripponden, near Scammonden shown in this Yorkshire Water promotional film.

Gamekeepers have long cast doubt on RSPB claims that they are responsible for hen harrier deaths. For example, the hen harrier that Scottish antis said had been killed by gamekeepers was found alive and well in January 2019. Now gamekeepers want a crackdown on satellite tagging after the RSPB spotted the bird in Perthshire.

According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, the RSPB said nothing about spotting it alive, even though the organisation made a great deal of eporting its apparent disappearance in 2018.

In addition, a farmer found a dead sea eagle with a tag that had failed several weeks previously and was already on a list of birds “Missing believed persecuted”.

Dead sea eagle, presumed by the RSPB to be killed by gamekeepers, but may have died from ‘cumbersome’ RSPB satellite tag

The Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association now wants the satellite tagging of birds to be licensed by the Scottish Government and some gamekeepers claim that cumbersome tags are what are killing hen harriers.

In March 2019, Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park started trialling a new type of satellite tag for tracking birds of prey. Over the next 18 months, some young golden eagles will be fitted with the Raptor Tracker, which aims to provide better information on the birds’ movements, including an “instant fix” on any eagles that die. Shooting groups welcome the move, which they believe will exonerate them from exaggerated claims that they kill eagles. However, shooters are still concerned about the lack of accountability of those involved in raptor monitoring and the disturbance they cause at nest sites, including killing an osprey chick in an incident in 2018.

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