Nature friendly moorland management sees hen harriers return to Wharfedale

Wildlife campaigners are celebrating the conservation efforts of a leading landowner which have resulted in rare hen harriers roosting on its moor.

Adopting nature-friendly moorland management techniques, NG Bailey’s Denton Park Estate, near Ilkley, has reversed declines in birds of prey associated with wildlife persecution by its former grouse shooting tenant.

Hen harriers are one of the rarest birds of prey in England with only 60 chicks having fledged during the 2020 breeding season. This makes the newly-established roost on Denton Moor of national importance to the conservation of the species.

A Denton Park Estate spokesperson said:

“It’s fantastic to see that a number of hen harriers have established a roost on our estate. We take our responsibilities for the moorland very seriously and ensure it is managed respectfully — maintaining an exceptional habitat for all wildlife and plants.”

In addition to the return of hen harriers, peatland habitat on the moor is starting to regenerate, with the expansion of important plant life such as sphagnum moss.

Healthy peatlands are crucial for locking carbon into the ground to tackle climate change, create rich biodiversity and reduce flood risk in the valley below by holding back large amounts of water.

Luke Steele, Spokesperson for Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors, said:

“The sight of hen harriers returning to roost is an amazing natural spectacle that must be protected for future generations to experience. It’s fantastic to see these magnificent birds of prey choosing Denton Moor to make their home.

“NG Bailey’s conservation drive to restore the hen harrier population in Wharfedale is not only commendable, but represents a symbol of hope for threatened wildlife everywhere.”

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Notes for editors:

  • Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors campaigns to free up moorland for conservation from exploitation for grouse shooting. By working with society, companies and government to create change, we secure effective protection for wildlife, habitats and local communities.
  • NG Bailey ended its grouse shooting lease on Denton Moor in March 2019 following lobbying by BBYM, which provided evidence of illegal persecution of wildlife by the former grouse shooting tenant. The company subsequently embarked on a conservation drive to restore the moorland habitat for wildlife.