Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative failing

Hen harrier Mark Hamblin 2020vision

Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative is failing. That’s the conclusion we've come to this week following the release of the Initiative’s annual statistics.

This week the report confirmed that only three pairs of peregrine successfully raised young, goshawks continue to be absent from the Dark Peak and two out of four hen harrier chicks went missing.

The Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative was set up seven years ago as a collaboration between the Peak District National Park Authority, Natural England, National Trust and the Moorland Association, with support from local raptor groups and land managers in order to see a reduction in wildlife crime and as a result, the welcome return of birds of prey.

But, in seven years it has made little impact. Dr Jo Smith our CEO said, “I’m deeply concerned that despite the initiative and all the efforts the partners are doing to address the issues of persecution, nothing has changed. Our idea of success is not three breeding pairs of peregrines and we can’t even celebrate the success of four hen harrier chicks because two have already gone missing under suspicious circumstances.  Our uplands should be bursting with wildlife, people should be able to enjoy seeing birds of prey every time they visit. It’s not good enough.”


Peregrine, Dave Nay

Peregrine, Dave Nay, via Flickr 

In January 2018 RSPB pulled out of the Initiative citing continued failures in turning around the fortunes of birds of prey in the Peak District.

We set out our vision for the uplands around the same time. We believe there is an exciting future for the Peak District if people look at different ways of managing the land.

Jo explains, “A new approach to our uplands is needed. They are iconic landscapes that improve the environment, help combat climate change and provide benefits for people, such as clean drinking water. But they should also provide havens for wildlife and we’re missing that at the moment. We’d love to see re-introduction of species that used to thrive here such as red squirrel and pine marten, maybe one day even golden eagle but it can’t happen until wildlife crime stops. There needs to be stronger measures and a more committed approach from everyone to ending wildlife crime. Only then will the Bird of Prey Initiative achieve what it set out to do.”

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Hen harrier, Tim Birch 

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Golden plover, Derbyshire uplands, Tim Birch