THE Yorkshire Dales National Park says this year has seen the highest number of nesting attempts by hen harriers for decades - but the protected birds of prey remain ‘critically endangered’ and there is still a long way to go.

Two of the six nesting attempts were ‘brood managed’, where eggs or chicks are removed under licence to be reared in captivity before being released, and one tagged female bird has already gone missing and its fate so far ‘unknown’, says the park authority.

The numbers are reflected across the whole of England, with Natural England recording the best year for hen harrier breeding in the country since its hen harrier recovery project was started in 2002. The Government organisation says this year saw 60 chicks fledged this summer from 19 nests across the country with sites, in addition to the Dales, in Northumberland, Cumbria and Lancashire.

Ian McPherson, the national park’s member champion for the natural environment, said it was great to see that more hen harriers had bred this year, but asked people to be vigilant when visiting the area, and to report any suspicious activity.

“Within the Yorkshire Dales National Park itself we know of six nesting attempts, the highest in decades, two of which were brood managed.

“But while it’s good to see the steady improvement - with more nesting attempts each year - there is still a long way to go”.

As Tony Juniper, Chairman of Natural England, observed: “Too many birds still go missing in unexplained circumstances. Hen harriers remain critically endangered in England and there is a long way to go before the population returns to what it should be”.

Four of this year’s satellite-tagged young birds are already missing, ‘fate unknown’. This includes a female that was tagged in the Yorkshire Dales on June 4.

Mr McPherson said: “The Yorkshire Dales is an important area for hen harriers outside the breeding season as well, with birds from across the country coming to winter on the moors and fells.

“ It’s crucial that these birds not only have safe nesting sites, but also survive the winter, hopefully to breed next year.

“We want to keep these stunning birds in our skies - where they belong - and we’re appealing to the public to help us stamp out raptor persecution once and for all.

“All birds of prey are protected by law and killing them is a criminal offence. So please, help be our eyes and ears whilst out in the Yorkshire Dales this autumn and winter.”

The national park is asking anyone who sees a hen harrier in the Dales, to report the sighting to the hen harrier hotline on 0845 460 0121 or by email to

It is also asking people to contact the police if they see anything suspicious, or have a concern about a possible wildlife crime. They should call the non emergency police number, 101 and ask for the details to be passed on to a wildlife crime officer.

To report wildlife crimes actually in process, witnesses should call 999 straight away, and ask to speak to the police.

For more ways to help, to understand the impact of raptor persecution, and how to report it, visit: