Lancashire police have launched an investigation after a fourth breeding male hen harrier mysteriously vanished from Bowland, Lancashire.
This is the latest in a series of unexplained disappearances in the area after three breeding males failed to return to their nests in the Forest of Bowland earlier in the season.
The latest disappearance of the endangered bird led to the demise of yet another nest. Last year there were only four successful nests in the whole country, two of which were on the United Utilities Bowland Estate.
Hen harrier’s are England’s most endangered breeding bird of prey and now Lancashire Police and the RSPB are appealing for any information about what happened to the bird which had an active nest on the United Utilities Bowland Estate.
Lorraine Ellwood, Lancashire Police Rural Policing and Wildlife Co-ordinator, said the police are not ruling out criminal activity.
She said: “We remain open minded as to the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the male harriers, and are exploring all possibilities of both natural causes and criminal intent.“
The last confirmed sighting of the male was on Friday, 29 May when it was observed passing food to the female. RSPB staff continued to see the female in the vicinity of the nest but were concerned by the absence of the male bringing food.
They visited the nest on Monday, 1 June, and discovered that the nest had been abandoned and that the eggs were cold.
Graham Jones, the RSPB’s conservation manager for the RSPB in North West England, said: “All of the RSPB and United Utilities staff and volunteers who have been monitoring the hen harrier nests in Bowland are devastated by this latest disappearance, as are the estate’s shooting tenants.
“However, we are now more committed than ever to rescuing this beautiful bird from the brink of extinction in England.”
Anyone with information about the missing bird should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or, alternatively, call the RSPB on 01767 693690.