Peak protest highlights plight of hen harrier
Scores of protesters have descended on the Peak District to highlight the plight of a bird of prey.
Hen harriers are close to extinction in England because of ‘intense persecution’, experts say.
On Sunday, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust joined hundreds of people at a peaceful protest in Edale to raise awareness about the struggle of the iconic species, which is protected by law.
Tim Birch, head of advocacy and conservation strategy at the trust, was one of six speakers at the event.
He said: “There is a rising tide of anger about what is happening in our uplands not only to our hen harriers but also other birds of prey such as the peregrine and goshawk.
“The Peak District National Park is a place where wildlife and the landscape is supposed to be celebrated, cherished and protected.
“We believe everyone who visits the Peak District should have the opportunity to see some of our most spectacular wildlife.
“The hen harrier is a symbol for all the species and ecosystems we wish to see thrive,” he added.
Hardyal Dhindsa, Police and Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire, also spoke at the event.
Derbyshire Constabulary insists it is committed to tackling wildlife crime.
A spokesman for the force said: “There are many different pieces of legislation which offer protection to wildlife.
“Wildlife crime is serious and will be dealt with robustly by Derbyshire Constabulary as it threatens to drive rare plants and animals to extinction, can cause unnecessary suffering to animals and can cause disruption to communities.”
The Government is seeking to increase hen harrier numbers across moorlands in England.
An action plan, launched in January by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and supported by organisations including the RSPB and the Moorland Association, was set up to revive the bird’s fortunes.
According to the RSPB, hen harriers are the most ‘intensively persecuted’ birds of prey in the UK and its predation of grouse is a source of conflict on moors used for shooting.
The Moorland Association, which supports grouse shooting, said the organisation was committed to the successful breeding of hen harriers.