Our Harriers need some heroes

Hen harrier
Hen harrier
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A conservation charity has launched a new award to help raise awareness of the plight of the hen harrier.

The RSPB is looking for young people in Lancashire to help them in their efforts to raise awareness of what is England’s most threatened bird of prey.

The Hen Harrier Hero Awards is a new scheme where children and young people are encouraged to carry out a range of fun and engaging activities relating to hen harriers and their moorland home.   

This year, hen harriers suffered their worst breeding season in England for five decades, failing to raise a single chick.

These birds should be a fairly common sight on the Lancashire moors and, until 2011, Bowland was regarded as their last remaining English stronghold. However, there have not been any successful nests there for the past two breeding seasons.

It is estimated that there is enough suitable habitat in the English uplands for at least 300 pairs. However, the tendency of hen harriers to eat red grouse means that some shooting estates feel they have to illegally kill or disturb the birds in order to protect their stock. 

The aim of the Hen Harrier Hero Awards is to educate people about hen harriers and encourage them to care about their future.

Blanaid Denman, who set up the scheme, explains: “Hen harriers are in desperate need of heroes. They’ve been an integral part of British wildlife since records began, yet most people have never even heard of them.

“By helping to raise awareness the award scheme won’t just help hen harriers, it will also help reconnect children with nature, teaching them about the birds, the upland landscape and the importance of looking after wildlife.” 

To become a Hen Harrier Hero, children need to complete six activities from a choice of 15, which are outlined in a special booklet. These include visiting a moor, designing a hen harrier poster and hosting a fun day.

Rewards include personalised certificates and stickers, and participants who go on to become Hen Harrier Superheroes by completing ten or more activities will also receive a hen harrier pin badge.  

The award scheme is designed to complement the national curriculum and is free of charge, open to anyone including individuals, families, groups and schools.

Hen Harrier Hero Activity packs can be downloaded from www.rspb.org.uk/henharrierhero or for more information, email henharrierhero@rspb.org.uk.