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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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AWF Student Grant open for submissions

News Story 1
 Applications are open for the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) Student Grant Scheme for innovative research projects designed to impact animal welfare.

Undergraduate and postgraduate students of veterinary science, veterinary nursing, agriculture studies and animal welfare are invited to submit their proposals to undertake research projects next year.

Grants are decided based on the project’s innovation, relevance to topical animal welfare issues and ability to contribute towards raising animal welfare standards. For more information visit animalwelfarefoundation.org.uk.  

Click here for more...
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SPANA film highlights plight of working animals overseas

Animal welfare charity SPANA (The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) has teamed up with Brian Blessed and other famous voices to highlight the plight of working animals overseas.

In a new animated film, the celebrities raise awareness by showing the solidarity of the UK's own working animals on strike. A sniffer dog (Brian Blessed), police horse (Peter Egan) and sheepdog (Deborah Meaden) are shown ignoring their duties and protesting in solidarity with animals in developing countries.

SPANA chef executive Geoffrey Dennis said: "We are so grateful to Deborah, Peter and Brian for lending their voices to our new film, and for speaking up for millions of working animals overseas. SPANA believes that a life of work should not mean a life of suffering, and it is only thanks to people’s generosity and support that we can continue our vital work improving the lives of these animals."