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Hen Harrier Persecution Initiative

Operation Artemis

The RSPB is delighted that from today the persecution of the Hen Harrier, one of Britain`s most threatened bird of prey, will be treated as one of the most serious wildlife crimes in Britain by the Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland (ACPO).

Speaking at a PAW [The Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime is a multi-agency body comprising representatives of all the organizations involved in wildlife law enforcement in the UK, including the RSPB.] wildlife crime conference today [Tuesday 24 February, 2004] at Kew, Richard Brunstrom, Chief Constable of North Wales and the ACPO lead on wildlife and the environment, will launch Operation Artemis, a Police initiative to tackle crimes against the hen harrier throughout the UK.

Graham Elliott, the head of the RSPB`s wildlife crime investigations section, said: Despite decades of intense effort by the RSPB and others, the hen harrier remains one of our most persecuted birds of prey. Today`s announcement is a wake-up call to hen harrier persecutors that their actions pose a serious threat to the future of this bird in Britain and that any suspicion of crime against hen harriers will be a high priority for police officers.The RSPB believes that the persecution of the hen harrier is widespread on upland shooting estates in Britain and that many eggs have been destroyed and adult birds have been shot and poisoned.

Research into the hen harrier suggests there is sufficient habitat to support around 230 pairs in England. It is believed that persecution is the main reason why hen harriers are doing badly. In 2003, there were only 22 breeding attempts by hen harrier in England, of which only eight were successful. In Scotland, in 2003, there were between 365 and 506 pairs. There were a further 18 pairs nesting in Wales.

For further information and to arrange an interview, please contact: Grahame Madge, RSPB press officer, on 01767 681577. Out of hours, please telephone: 07702 196902 (mobile) Graham Elliott, RSPB head of investigations, on 07850 825433

4th July 2014