BASC welcomes Highlander’s ‘return’

BASC has welcomed the RSPB’s announcement that a satellite-tagged hen harrier that went missing last year has possibly been found alive.

‘Highlander’ fledged from an estate in the Forest of Bowland in 2014 and was successfully tracked until its tag stopped transmitting in April 2016 in the County Durham area.

The RSPB is now reporting that it believes Highlander has returned to a previous roost within 30 miles of the Forest of Bowland and is still carrying the failed tag, although they say the lack of signal makes it impossible to be 100 per cent certain of the bird’s identity.

Duncan Thomas, BASC director north, said: “We are delighted with the news Highlander has possibly been found alive. Of course, this development supports fears raised by many in the shooting community about the long-term functionality of tagging systems.

“At the time Highlander went missing the shooting community was vilified. The bird’s possible rediscovery is proof of the importance of having sound evidence before hurling accusations.”

Tim Russell, BASC’s director of conservation, said: “If this bird is the original Highlander, this would be very good news indeed. Tagging birds is a good way of monitoring activity, but tags can fail.”

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