Stop the Illegal Persecution of Rare Hen Harriers in England

Conservationists are outraged that a gamekeeper from England's 4,500-acre Mossdale estate, owned by the Van Cutsem family, admitted to leaving a cruel, illegal pole trap near hen harrier habitat. The authorities let the unnamed gamekeeper, who left an illegal trap strong enough to break a human finger, off with a caution. The indiscriminate traps crush the bird's legs and leave them in agony for hours.

Illegal persecution of hen harriers is driving the birds dangerously close to extinction. Even though there is enough habitat for 300 breeding pairs in England, there were only four breeding pairs in 2014. Now only a handful of pairs remain.

Hen harriers are persecuted on estates by gamekeepers because they eat grouse that wealthy hunters, including the royal family, are so fond of -- the hunters "will pay thousands of pounds per day to troop into managed estates and kill grouse," reports the Guardian. Gamekeepers have to ensure that there are enough grouse to hunt, even if it comes at the expense of the rare hen harrier.

Sign and share this petition urging DEFRA and the NWCU to crack down on the illegal persecution of hen harriers and to ensure local police and courts enforce the current laws. Letting the gamekeeper off with a warning sends the wrong conservation message.


Raptor persecution is a stated 'priority' of the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) - a Government department funded by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs). However, this 'priority' is not being backed up by action when local police forces merely caution trappers.

Update July 2016:


Earlier this month, Britain's National Trust announced that for the first time ever, it was pulling the grouse shooting lease in the Peak District National Park, which lies mostly in the northern U.K. county of Derbyshire. As Raptor Persecution UK explains, "This is a ground-breaking move from the National Trust. ... Basically the NT is saying that it will no longer tolerate the illegal persecution of raptors, whether suspected or actual, on land that it leases to grouse-shooting tenants." Read more here.
Update #34 months ago
The Government has responded to this petition to direct us to their reply to another related petition on the Government website. Their response is very disappointing as the Government clearly side with the landowners who profit from grouse shooting, which puts hen harriers at risk of continued illegal persecution. Please continue to share this petition to raise awareness of the plight of these beautiful, rare, British birds of prey.
Update #210 months ago
Tweet the Environment Minister now to ask why Defra hasn't responded.

This petition was emailed to Defra by Care2 on 27 April 2018. They have not responded. Today we have emailed the government again to ask what action Defra will take to crack down on illegal persecution of hen harriers and ensure laws are enforced.

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