Monday, 20 August 2007

Harrier remains found near Eagle Owl nest

The routine inspection of an Eagle Owl nest site in Lancashire has revealed the remains of three Hen Harriers.

The pair of Eagle Owls that famously nested at Dunslop Bridge in the Trough of Bowland, Lancashire, this year are being blamed for the deaths of local Hen Harriers. The nest site has been closely monitored by local wildlife police and others, including a search of the area around the nest for prey items. The remains of single male, female and juvenile Hen Harriers were retrieved and these indicate that they were predated naturally.

Stuart Burgess, from Natural England which runs a harrier recovery programme said: "Natural England is concerned about the perilously low population of hen harriers in England. Our Hen Harrier Recovery Project is working to have a sustainable population of hen harriers that would not be threatened by predation. Eagle Owls can breed well in captivity and we would ask that people do not release them and make sure they do not escape and this may actually be illegal."

The RSPB states on its website: “Eagle Owls will prey on a wide range of bird and mammals, but little is known about what is eaten by Eagle Owls in this country. This means that their potential impact on the conservation status of native wildlife is unknown. If Eagle Owls were to spread rapidly and affect the conservation status of native wildlife, including species such as Black Grouse and Hen Harrier, that would be of concern.

“We believe that, as part of its non-native species strategy, the government should assess the likely impacts of an increasing population of Eagle Owls and consult interested groups on its recommendations.”

Source: Lancashire Telegraph