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Record breeding year for hen harriers
Natural England will monitor the birds’ progress as they move away from their nest areas.

Total of 81 fledged chicks in two years 

A record breeding year for hen harriers has seen a total of 15 nests producing 47 chicks, according to Natural England.

Over the past two years, there have been 81 fledged chicks, compared to a total of 55 chicks over the previous five years put together. The previous highpoint was 2006, when 46 chicks were produced.

Chicks also hatched in a larger range of areas this year, including Northumberland, the Yorkshire Dales, Nidderdale, Derbyshire and Lancashire.

A wide range of organisations worked together to care for and protect the hen harrier chicks, including conservation organisations, local police, estates and their keepers, farmers and a large number of volunteer raptor enthusiasts.

Natural England will monitor the birds’ progress as they move away from their nest areas, using satellite tags that have been fitted to a high proportion of chicks.

Commenting on the news, Ian McPherson, of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said: “At long last, there are grounds for cautious optimism with hen harriers again breeding successfully in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. These are magnificent birds, ideally suited to the Dales, and their long absence has shamed us all.”

Dr Adam Smith, of the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, added: “More hen harriers better distributed has been our conservation goal for many years. So the trend toward more harriers breeding successfully in the English uplands over the last two years is very encouraging. We hope successful grouse moors managing a co-existence with harriers will become a regular part of our moorland management scene.”

Natural England chairman Tony Juniper welcomed the positive news but added: “We must remember that the hen harrier is still very far from where it should be as a breeding species in England, not least due to illegal persecution.”

In February, the public body released a research paper that revealed young hen harriers in England suffer abnormally high mortality, and the most likely cause is illegal killing.

Mr Juniper pledged to work with colleagues to pursue all options for the recovery of the species.

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Zoo animals step on the scales for annual weigh-in

News Story 1
 Squirrel monkeys, penguins and meerkats are just some of the animals that stepped on the scales on Thursday (22 August) for the start of ZSL London Zoo’s annual weigh-in.

The annual event gives keepers a chance to check the animals in their care are healthy, eating well and growing at the correct weight. Keepers say that a growing waistline can also help them to detect pregnancies, which is vital as many of the species at the zoo are endangered.

The data is then added to a database shared with zoos and conservationists across the globe. This helps keepers to compare information and provide better care for the species they are fighting to protect.  

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Professor Abdul Rahman announced as keynote speaker for BVA Members’ Day 2019

Celebrated Indian vet and parasitologist Professor Abdul Rahman is set to deliver the keynote speech at BVA Members’ Day 2019.

Professor Rahman will present his insights into the human behaviour challenges of controlling zoonotic disease in his talk: ‘A One Health approach to rabies elimination in Asia’. The talk will outline efforts to gain political support for dog vaccination programmes in China, as well as the need for a collaborative approach between vets, public health, livestock and animal welfare agencies.

The event takes place on Thursday, 19 September at Brangwyn Hall, Swansea. Tickets are free but must be reserved through the BVA website as places are limited.