top of page
  • C4PMC

RSPB at odds with…..well, everyone, on hen harriers

Hen harriers across the UK are at their highest numbers for over 200 years. The latest hen harrier survey shows that in some parts of Scotland, the numbers of hen harriers has increased over 125% since 2016.


Yet despite this extraordinary conservation recovery, the RSPB continue to criticise land managers, and attempt to radicalise opponents of moorland management, rather than celebrate success.


In their latest press release on the findings of the survey, which was written by RSPB Communications Officer Aran Burton – who happens, by the way, to not to be based anywhere near Scotland – the focus seems to be on the disappearance of a single harrier in the Angus Glens, rather than recognising the national trend.


Burton seems to have had a brief from senior management of the RSPB to make their latest findings as accusatory and unhelpful as possible with his latest criticism of grouse moor management.


Duncan Orr-Ewing, Head of Species and Land Management for RSPB Scotland, who previously made a complete fool of himself at the Game Fair and left his audience in despair, has thrown his support into Aran Burton’s release, with an utterly bonkers quote.


In a further sign Orr-Ewing is becoming increasingly irrelevant to practical conservation, his comments, which reflect the position of the RSPB, are entirely at odds with the common consensus on hen harriers and are seemingly designed only to cause division.


It is of course with fundraising at the forefront of their mind that they seek to sow this division, which probably explains why in some instances Aran Burton chooses to simply adulterate the findings. Take, for instance, where Burton says that “the numbers of [hen harriers] breeding on grouse moors continue to decline”.


This is completely made up. Within the survey, the percentage change increases in two of the three regions in which there is a driven grouse shooting footprint, and figure two shows a correlation between numerous known grouse moors and territorial pairs. It is simply a lie for the RSPB and Aran Burton to infer this.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the complete factual inaccuracies in the release. In paragraph five Burton claims that “The West Highlands, Hebrides and Orkney continued to provide a home for the majority of Scotland's breeding harriers”. Again, this is complete nonsense. In fact – according to the report they are quoting – the majority of territorial pairs are found in the West Highlands (93), East Highlands (85) and North Highlands (83). There are 152 territorial pairs across the West Highlands, Hebrides and Orkney which is not a majority (majority = 186). 

Burton, who should probably be renamed a ‘manipulation officer’ rather than communications officer, then goes on to make the same weaponised slander the RSPB like to make, which is to infer that a disappeared satellite tag equals assumed persecution. This is completely untrue, and shows how much the RSPB have simply taken the extremist agenda-driven and manipulative opinions of RPUK’s Ruth Tingay as gospel.

But as if the manipulation of the data within the RSPB’s release wasn’t enough, at no point do Burton, Duncan Orr-Ewing or any other RSPB employee mention that the so-called ‘independent Hen Harrier report’ was in fact authored by former RSPB Conservation manager, Daniel Hayhow.


Hayhow, who now works for Earthwatch Europe, reinforces just how intertwined and agenda driven the charitable environmental sector really is. Any consideration based on this latest disgraceful RSPB release should be immediately dismissed.


bottom of page