This year’s Hen Harrier Day 2019 was organised by Wild Justice, with Severn Trent Water, at Carsington Water in Derbyshire. The event was set up in 2014 to celebrate this beautiful bird and highlight the ongoing illegal persecution that it faces on grouse moors throughout the UK.
Hen Harrier Day events started in 2014 and have been held at locations from Northern Ireland to the south coast of England to the highlands of Scotland. The event is helping to highlight to the general public the cruelty associated with this hobby in our moorlands. It was wonderful to see Hen Harrier Day back in its spiritual homeland of the Peak District which I refer to as my patch having visited this beautiful national park since my early teenage years. The Peak District was where the first Hen Harrier Day started back in 2014.
There were hundreds of people that turned up and it was one of the best Hen Harrier days since this event started back in 2014. Fantastic and passionate speeches and a real sense of change that better times are coming for one of our most beautiful birds of prey I feel. Things have to change and those doing this illegal killing must be brought to book and punished to send a firm message that a select few can’t do as they please with our wildlife any longer.
One of the most moving moments was when Chris Packham invited four young children up to read their own poems they’d wrote about this bird of prey. Beautiful words describing this bird and what is happening to it on our grouse moors. I hope one day we won’t have to stand in a field and demand that these birds aren’t killed any longer and those children see Hen Harriers flying free without harm in our skies.
The destructive nature of driven grouse shooting on the lead up to, during and after is killing so much wildlife and leaving us with a controlled, managed landscape that only benefits the landowners. Those that shoot Red grouse like to call it “Tradition” something passed down from generation to generation from a world most of us will never be invited into. Many grouse moors now are often like the many monoculture landscapes I’ve seen in Sumatra, Indonesia and Madagascar with the vile and lifeless palm oil plantations they have there.
The estates are owned by a mixture of lords, dukes, earls and barons as well as bankers, businessmen and firms based in offshore tax havens. The British government subsidies grouse moors, and not so long ago raised the subsidy it provides for grouse moors from £30 per hectare to £56. While the poor in society are being forced out of their homes through government cuts, homelessness is blighting our streets. The demand for food banks reaches an all time high our money is used to subsidies grouse moor estates. Who then kill everything that lives there pushing birds like the Hen Harrier to extinction.
The small reprieve for the Red Grouse that are left is only short lived though as they are slaughtered too for vast amounts of money from 12th August right the way through to December 10th. While the rest of us are struggling the interests of the very rich are ring fenced and protected. Without nature there is nothing, and the systemic, brutal sterilising of our national heritage can’t carry on.
Wildlife doesn’t just disappear, birds of prey are iconic and belong on these moors and so do the Red Grouse, the Mountain Hares and all the other wildlife slowly being murdered and removed so people can blast native, innocent wildlife for sheer fun and that’s all it is. It brings to the surface the murky side of this country I live in. It shows us the dirty underbelly of the class and what it does and how it changes some people born into wealth but are so removed from reality its unbelievable.
The passion and drive at this year’s event was amazing signalling that people aren’t having this no longer and things will and are changing. We are a nation of wildlife lovers at the core and nothing and nobody can ever stop that or use their power and wealth to blow out that candle of hope. As long as you still have hope you have everything.
Hopefully Hen Harrier Day will carry on and keep these remarkably birds alive along with all the other species that live alongside the Hen Harriers. If you’d like to get involved in what is happening in our uplands then please contact Wild Justice for more information.