Sep 022015

Some of you may be aware of the publicity around Hen Harrier Day.  I have written a couple of posts about my trips to Derbyshire to support this.

The hen harrier has become a symbol for a change in the way we manage our landscape and wildlife, to enable a biodiverse eco-system to be returned to the uplands where hen harriers should breed – England could support around 300 nests and last year had four.   Chris Packham sums up why we are trying to highlight the issue here.

Mark Avery (who worked for the RSPB for 25 years and was the RSPB’s Conservation Director for nearly 13 years) has been working hard to publicise both the Hen Harrier Day and has also set up a Government Petition to Ban Drive Grouse Shooting.   To find out more about that see his website here.   Or you could buy a copy of his book Inglorious which gives a balanced and factual reasoning for the action that some of us are taking.

Mike Clarke, Chief Executive of the RSPB gave a passionate speech on Hen Harrier Eve.   A Gravesend man, he talked about his memories of seeing hen harrier at Cliffe Pools and Capel Fleet Viewpoint on Sheppey.

I hope you will start to appreciate why this is important to me – I grew up in Derbyshire and have no recollection of noticing a hen harrier when I was being dragged along by my parents, encouraged to appreciate all the wildlife and space around me.   I now live in North Kent and I was lucky enough to see my first hen harrier at Capel Fleet Viewpoint – a beautiful male coming into winter roost as the sun set over the Swale – a fantastic memory from many years ago.   It feels as if my hen harrier experiences are coming full circle – growing up in prime breeding areas and now living in the winter and migration territory.

Many of us are members of conservation and wildlife groups, and even though we all have our own particular interests, we probably have a similar urge to protect what is round us and do something to stand up for nature.   There is now a more urgent need to bring this into the public eye and concentrate our energies to change things.

With over 180 members of this group I was interested to see that as at 17th August only 12 people in the Gravesham Constituency had signed the petition, and 14 in Dartford.  This highlighted to me the need to spread the word and inform people of the campaign to change.   If you want to see how many have signed from other constituencies as at 17th August, the list is here.   The petition attracted 10,000 signatures in only 15 days, and if we gather 1o0,000 signatures by the 21st January 2016, the petition will be considered for discussion in Parliament.

To sign the Petition (and I hope that you will) please visit the Government website Ban Driven Grouse Shooting.

A time for change?  . . . . I certainly think so

Sue Healey


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