38 per cent drop in number of hen harriers in Kerry

With thanks to photographer Shay ConnollyThere’s been a 38 per cent drop in the number of hen harriers in Kerry. That’s according to a new survey on the hen harrier, compiled by the Golden Eagle Trust, Irish Raptor Study Group, and BirdWatch Ireland. The protected species can be found in a Special Protection Area spanning counties Kerry, Limerick and Cork. There are currently between 23 and 28 pairs of breeding hen harriers in the Special Protection Area that takes in Stack’s to Mullaghareirk Mountains, West Limerick Hills, and Mount Eagle. That’s according to the Ireland Hen Harrier Survey 2015. It states that in 2005 there were between 40 and 45 breeding pairs in this local SPA, however that dropped to between 18 and 29 five years later, and then last year there were estimated to be between 23 and 28 pairs. This shows that over the past 10 years, there was a 38 per cent drop in the hen harrier population in the Stack’s to Mullaghareirk, West Limerick Hills, and Mount Eagle SPA. The report also shows that this SPA produced 24 fledged young in 2015, which is almost a quarter (23.5 per cent) of the total number of fledged birds in Ireland. Nationally there’s been a 10 per cent drop in the population in the past 10 years, while there was a 33 per cent decrease in the last 17 years.