Time for heroes to step up for hen harriers

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Calls have been made for a new generation of young conservationists to help protect the endangered hen harrier.

The RSPB is looking for young people in Yorkshire to help raise awareness about the hen harrier, England’s most threatened bird of prey.

The conservation charity has launched the Hen Harrier Hero Awards, 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. It is estimated that there is enough suitable habitat in the English uplands for at least 300 pairs.

But the tendency of hen harriers to eat red grouse means that some shooting estates feel they have to illegally kill or disturb the birds of prey in order to protect their stock.

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

Blanaid Denman, who set up the scheme, said: “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 about our most threatened bird of prey, 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 booklet and include visiting a moor and designing a poster. Activity packs can be downloaded from www.rspb.org.uk/henharrierhero and more information about the project is available via email at henharrierhero@rspb.org.uk