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Concern for missing hen harrier

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By Charles Fletcher
Annan and Eskdale
Concern for missing hen harrier

A THIRD hen harrier from the region has disappeared in suspicious circumstances across the border.

Reiver, a young female, fledged from a nest on Langholm Moor, vanished four weeks ago.

Her last transmission came from Ninebanks, an area dominated by driven grouse moors in Northumberland.

Reiver is the third Scottish satellite-tagged hen harrier to go missing in what the RSPB called “identical, sudden and suspicious circumstances”.

Howard Jones, RSPB investigations officer, said: “It is almost certain that Reiver has been illegally killed.

“This is more than just a pattern, it is a known fact that hen harrier numbers are so low because of persistent persecution.”

Jenny Barlow, estate manager at Langholm, added: “There is always such anticipation and excitement for our hen harriers to return each year to the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve here in Langholm.

“It is extremely sad news for us all that Reiver won’t be making her way back home to us again.”

Reiver was fitted with a satellite tag while she was still in her nest

It is part of an RSPB project to help understand the journeys made by these red-listed birds of prey and the survival challenges they face after fledging.

Mr Jones said: “Satellite tags are highly reliable and will continue to transmit even after the bird’s death. For a tag which has been functioning reliably to suddenly cut out like this strongly suggests foul play.”

He added the governments in Edinburgh and London need to “urgently address” the disappearance of hen harriers.

All birds of prey are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To intentionally kill or injure one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months in jail.

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