Henry Morris raises awareness of wildlife crime and supports Wild Justice

On Wednesday morning at 8am in a remote part of the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Lancashire, Henry Morris (second from right above) and his brother Ed, and friends Tim and John set off on a journey. Henry’s aim was to run 200km, in four days, across the grouse moors of northern England to publicise the illegal killing of Hen Harriers and to raise money for Wild Justice. Wild Justice director Mark Avery was there to wave the gang off and wish them well.

A pair of Hen Harriers; the grey male is passing some food that he has caught to the brown female who will take it back to the chicks in the nest. And all this happens at speed in mid-air. Photo: Godon Yates.

On Saturday at 2pm, in Nidderdale in Yorkshire, Wild Justice directors Ruth Tingay and Mark Avery, and a crowd of friends and family of Henry and the other runners, gathered to welcome them to the end of their journey.

What an achievement! As Henry and his relay team ran through villages they were greeted by supporting honks from passing motorists, cheers from people along the route and some puzzled looks.

Henry was carrying a satellite tag, a bit like the ones that are used to study birds and their movements, and so it had been possible to follow his progress across the remote uplands of Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire. Henry had planned his route to visit the areas where Hen Harriers, also carrying satellite tags, had ‘disappeared’ in recent years. A recent analysis of the Hen Harrier data was entitled ‘Patterns of satellite tagged hen harrier disappearances suggest widespread illegal killing on British grouse moors.‘ and confirmed the open secret that Hen Harriers are gunned down, totally illegally, on grouse moors because Red Grouse form part of the birds’ diet. In other words, a protected and beautiful bird is killed illegally to protect Red Grouse stocks so that people can shoot the grouse for fun later in the year.

Henry Morris and his satellite tag.

Henry, like most normal people, was amazed and incensed by this rampant wildlife crime in the National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in northern England and planned his run to ‘join the dots’ of locations of Hen Harrier disappearances.

On Friday the runners visited the spot where a famous Hen Harrier, hatched and fledged in the Forest of Bowland where Henry’s run started, was illegally killed, shot, in Nidderdale near where the run ended. That Hen Harrier was named Bowland Betty by local school children and she travelled far and wide in her first two years of life, visiting moorland in the north of Scotland and many sites in the north of England before meeting her end in Nidderdale before she had the chance to rear any chicks herself. Bowland Betty’s story is a famous one, a typical one, but a sad one – and there’s even a book all about her short life and its untimely end.

Henry Morris is amazing! A few months ago he had never seen a Hen Harrier and he knew little about wildlife crime affecting them and other birds of prey in the English uplands and now he is a Hen Harrier fan and a leading advocate for their proper protection. He has been inspired by this marvellous bird and the wildlife crimes that threaten its existence – but his marathon run inspires the rest of us to keep on campaigning for a better deal for wildlife. See his Hen Harrier website here.

Henry has also been raising money for Wild Justice through his run and he is fast approaching £10,000. If you feel inspired by Henry’s marathon run then please contribute to his crowdfunding page which you can access here.

We’ll be agreeing with Henry how we should spend the money raised. It is likely that some of it will go to the costs of setting up the Hen Harrier Day event in Derbyshire on 11 August, some may go to spreading the word about Hen Harriers to schools and some may be added to rewards for information to help the police catch wildlife criminals. It all depends how generous you are!

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