To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans his Department has to review regulation of driven grouse shooting to help protect (a) hen harriers and (b) other birds of prey.
8 September 2020
The Government recognises the conservation and economic benefits that shooting sports bring to rural communities.
All wild birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. There are strong penalties in place for offences committed against birds of prey and other wildlife; significant sanctions are available to judges to hand down to those convicted of wildlife crimes. Most wildlife crimes carry up to an unlimited fine and/or a six-month custodial sentence.
To address concerns about illegal killing of birds of prey, senior government and enforcement officers have identified raptor persecution as a national wildlife crime priority. Since 2016 Defra has contributed approximately £165,000 annually to the National Wildlife Crime Unit that monitors and gathers intelligence on wildlife crime, including raptor persecution, and aids police forces in their investigations when required.
We are committed to securing the long-term future of the hen harrier as a breeding bird in England. The Hen Harrier Action Plan sets out what will be done to increase hen harrier populations in England and includes measures to stop illegal persecution. The long-term plan was published in January 2016 and we believe that it remains the best way to safeguard the hen harrier in England. A copy of the plan is available at: www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/491818/henharrier-action-plan-england-2016.pdf
Whilst the Government has no current plans to carry out a review of the management of grouse moors, we recognise that it is vital that wildlife and habitats are respected and protected, and that the law is observed. We will continue to work to ensure a sustainable, mutually beneficial relationship between shooting and conservation.