Milestone in hen harriers trial after file variety of chicks launched to wild

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nationwide trial to rebuild England’s hen harrier inhabitants has hit a “key milestone” by releasing its highest variety of chicks into the wild.

The endangered hen is seeing a rebound underneath a brood administration trial arrange in 2018, which this yr has reared and launched 13 chicks.

The determine is probably the most in a single yr for the trial, centered in northern England, which has seen a complete of 34 chicks from 9 broods take to the wing because it was launched.

Hen harrier chicks (Owen Humphreys/PA) / PA Archive

5 of the brood-managed birds have gone on to breed within the wild for the reason that scheme started, including 17 chicks to the wild hen harrier inhabitants, which has a “pink” conservation standing.

The trial is a part of the Authorities-led hen harrier restoration plan and is designed to permit birds and gamekeepers to co-exist in areas the place grouse capturing is excessive.

It sees eggs and chicks from wild nests reared for just a few weeks at a specialist hen of prey centre earlier than being transported to pens on grouse moors.

They’re then tagged and monitored earlier than being launched into the wild, again into the identical basic areas that they got here from.

In England, there have been no hen harrier nests in 2013 – however this had rebounded to 84 chicks fledged within the wild in 2021, of which 80% have been on grass moors.

Final yr, brood administration trial interventions have been authorised at two nests in North Yorkshire and Lancashire and all eight chicks have been efficiently reared and launched.

Monitoring of the fortunes of the 2020 cohort of brood-managed birds confirmed six of the eight fledged survived their first winter, and 5 tried to breed final yr, of which 4 have been profitable. One chick died earlier than fledging as a consequence of horrible climate situations.

Whereas younger hen harriers are susceptible to different predators, illness, hunger and excessive climate, the trial has seen a 75% survival fee for many of its years.

A spokesman for the brood administration trial instructed the PA information company the 13 chicks launched this yr was a “key milestone” and the hen harrier inhabitants is now “on the cusp of sustainability” in England as has already been achieved in Scotland.

John Holmes, the technique director of Pure England, stated this yr’s cohort will now be monitored “by way of state-of-the-art satellite tv for pc monitoring know-how”.

“Thanks to those trackers, we all know that birds reared in earlier years have survived and efficiently reared younger themselves, contributing to the welcome improve in hen harrier nesting makes an attempt that we’re beginning to see,” he stated.

“We will probably be much more assured of a sustained restoration when the hen harrier inhabitants shouldn’t be restricted by unlawful persecution and this trial is gathering beneficial insights into survival charges and causes of any deaths.”

Amanda Anderson, director of the Moorland Affiliation, stated: “We have now seen some extremely encouraging outcomes and this can give scientists loads of proof as they contemplate what subsequent steps must be taken.”


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