HC Deb 14 January 1998 vol 304 c225W
Mr. Etherington

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what progress has been made to assess the impact of increasing raptor numbers on game bird and racing pigeon interests; and what future projects his Department plans. [23101]

Angela Eagle

In 1995 my Department set up a Raptor Working Group to investigate the effects of the recovery in populations of birds of prey and their impact on game bird management and racing pigeons. The Working Group is chaired jointly by DETR and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). Membership comprises scientific, conservation, game bird, landowning and racing pigeon interests. This Working Group has made significant progress in analysing the factors causing conflict and recently detailed its planned work for 1998 in a report to a forum of interested parties.

In 1998 the Group will concentrate on identifying integrated and practical solutions to deal with conflict situations. This will apply particularly to conflicts between the hen harrier and red grouse, where the Group will clarify the detail and legal implications of scaring techniques, supplementary feeding of raptors and possible translocation of harriers. Also the Group will consider how to raise awareness of moorland management issues and to discourage illegal persecution of raptors. The Working Group indicated its support for a national survey of hen harrier populations which is planned to take place in 1998.

Conclusions on the impact of birds of prey on racing pigeons should become clearer when the Department's sponsored research in this area reports in the late Spring of 1998. The Working Group will also assess the need for further research on the predation of pheasants at release pens.