RSPB dismissed in court again over hen harrier brood management

Three hen harrier chick in their nest

This year, 84 hen harrier chicks fledged from nests - a fantastic result - Credit: Sean Morris/Getty

For the second time, the RSPB has tried and failed to close down a successful hen harrier conservation programme that has seen huge increases in chicks fledged

The Court of Appeals recently dismissed, for the second time, legal challenges by the RSPB and Mark Avery (a founding member of Wild Justice) into Natural England’s research into hen harrier brood management, confirming that Natural England’s; the decision confirmed that Natural England’s trial brood management scheme is legal. 

The brood management scheme is part of a six-point recovery programme which aims to return hen harrier numbers to favourable conservation status (FCS) in England. FCS refers to the situation where a species’ population is maintaining itself on a long-term basis and where there is sufficiently large and suitable habitat to allow the species to continue to thrive. 

The hen harrier recovery scheme is supported by BASC and part-funded by the Wildlife Habitat Charitable Trust (WHCT), the grant-giving body set up by BASC to support conservation projects. 
Stressing the importance of the court’s ruling, Caroline Bedell, BASC’s executive director of conservation, said: “The decision is the correct one for those that wish to see hen harrier numbers grow in the UK.” 

Hen harrier trial brood management was introduced in 2018, and the number of chicks successfully fledging rose dramatically from that year onwards, with approximately seven times the number of chicks fledged before it was implemented.  

Read more about hen harrier numbers and conservation success from the shooting industry here