Peak District bird of prey program concludes amidst ongoing wildlife crime

The Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative, which commenced in 2011 with the goal of boosting bird of prey populations to levels observed in the 1990s, is coming to a close.

The Peak District National Park Authority (PDNA) announced that due to persistent wildlife crime and some of the project’s participants withdrawing, the initiative will come to an end, as it no longer results in significant progress.

The project aimed to revive the breeding numbers of well-known birds of prey such as the peregrine, goshawk, and merlin. However, it did manage to restore the presence of other birds, including hen harriers, red kites, and ospreys, by collaborating with landowners, gamekeepers, law enforcement, and conservationists.

The PDNA acknowledged that numerous crucial bird species did not experience the projected rise in numbers, with some remaining stagnant. Moreover, the National Park witnessed ongoing incidents of persecution, which resulted in the decision to conclude the initiative. A spokesperson from the PDNA commented, “the initiative is ending…due to insufficient advancement in achieving the targeted populations of vital species since its launch over a decade ago, and continuous accounts of persecution, both recorded and verified within the National Park.”

The PDNA mentioned that additional partners expressed their intent to exit from the program. As a result, the initiative was deemed unworkable by the authority. The RSPB withdrew from the scheme in 2018, as per the PDNA.

As per the PDNA, a team of volunteers had recently expressed their inability to keep providing assistance. Phil Mulligan, the chief executive of the PDNA, said that it is unfortunate that they have to conclude the initiative after working towards the protection of the captivating birds of prey, which are naturally found in the National Park, for over ten years.

Phil Mulligan, the chief executive of the PDNA, expressed regret over the closure of the initiative, stating that birds of prey are a vital component of local ecosystems and should be a flagship for nature’s recovery. Despite the project’s efforts, the failure to reach target populations from 30 years ago remains a concern, which may be attributed to illegal persecution towards certain species.

Phil Mulligan expressed gratitude to the initiative’s participants and assured that the authority would continue its efforts to safeguard birds of prey in the Peak District.

Amanda Anderson, director of the Moorland Association, stated that the initiative had been successful, pointing out that while some bird species had not reached the population levels of 1990, they were still present and breeding successfully.

Anderson also noted that other populations had grown substantially, citing the Breeding Birds survey conducted by Natural England.

According to Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association, sightings of buzzards, kestrels, and harriers have increased from 1990 to 2018.

She stated that although it is disappointing when some species fail to recover, land managers should play a key role in conserving habitats and working with the police to encourage birds of prey.

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By Ryan

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