Hen harriers and red grouse: moving towards consensus?

Steve Redpath, Simon Thirgood

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


1. The presence of predators may lead to conflict between different stakeholders. Finding ways to resolve such conflicts is a challenge to all involved.

2. Within the UK a long and, at times, acrimonious conflict has developed around the conservation of hen harriers Circus cyaneus on moorland managed for red grouse Lagopus lagopus scoticus. This paper follows our original forum article and the replies from colleagues in the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT).

3. Whilst differences of opinion remain, there are encouraging signs that both sides are striving for consensus. There is broad agreement that evidence is required on three fronts to address: (1) the ecological, economic and social consequences of alternative forms of land management in the uplands; (2) the efficacy of diversionary feeding of hen harriers; and (3) the utility of a brood management scheme to improve harrier conservation status and reduce the extent of the conflict.

4. Synthesis and applications: The conflict between hen harrier conservation and red grouse management has existed for decades with little sign of progress. For the first time, stakeholders, researchers and policy advisors are engaged in effective dialogue and are striving for solutions. There are encouraging signs that all sides are now willing to listen to alternative viewpoints and appear prepared to seriously consider compromises. It is to be hoped that a solution to the harrier grouse conflict can be found as this will have considerable positive rami. cations for management of heather moorlands in the UK and wider implications for the conservation of predators around the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)961-963
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Applied Ecology
Issue number5
Early online date19 Aug 2009
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009


  • conflict
  • dialogue
  • grouse
  • harrier
  • predators
  • stakeholder
  • uplands
  • human-wildlife conflict
  • raptor predation


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