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Packham calls for Manx support to save 'imperilled' hen harriers

Mr Packham's will bring his 'Pictures From the Edge of the World' show to the Gaiety this Wednesday.

BBC presenter talks raptors, seabirds and Extinction Rebellion to Manx Radio

Wildlife campaigner Chris Packham has asked the Isle of Man to join the fight against the illegal persecution of hen harriers.

As part of a drive led by Wild Justice, his legal group set up to protect threatened species, Mr Packham is raising awareness of criminal activity he says is taking place on British grouse moors, where a number of the raptors have gone missing because they've been shot.

It's a crime which he calls 'as illegal as speeding, robbing post offices or doing over a bank'.

"We're campaigning against this illegal activity and indirectly at driven grouse shooting specifically" he told Manx Radio, "because that industry is underpinned by this illegal activity.

"It's very disappointing that these criminals are besmirching the reputation of the wider shooting fraternity, we have no beef with them, we just want the law upheld.

"And the very sad thing is, while the Isle of Man is not covered in grouse moors, its hen harriers suffer."

Male Hen Harrier hunting a Meadow Pipit. Photo credit: Peter Christian

Mr Packham says he has seen birds, which have been ringed on the Island, migrate to the mainland and go missing 'under suspicious circumstances'.

"The second time I came to the Isle of Man it was to film a hen harrier roosting in the winter time, and I watched at that point about 20 birds going in and it was a thrilling evening.

"Unfortunately, those roosts aren't as busy now because of this persecution."

Manx Seabird Census

Meanwhile, away from the uplands and British moorlands, to what Mr Packham describes as the Island's 'unspoiled' coastline. However in light of a two-year study on the population of Manx seabirds, perhaps there may be more cause for concern.

In May, Manx Birdlife completed its seabird census, the first of its kind in 20 years. It revealed 'worrying' and 'significant declines' to the Island's biomass, which recorded a fall of over 50%.

It's a situation which is being mirrored across the British Isles and indeed, the rest of Europe according to Mr Packham. 

"It [the census] says very clearly to the people of the Isle of Man, that while you have a relatively utopian existence because of isolation and the unspoiled coastline and countryside, you are not immune to that which is impacting us on a global perspective.

Puffins are said to have been 'all but extirpated' from the Isle of Man, though a decoy programme is underway on the Calf of Man led by the Manx Wildlife Trust. 

He says the reason for the 'sad' decline lies with two factors; the legacy of over-fishing and climate change, with the latter leading to warmer waters which therefore impact on fish migrations.

"A lot of seabirds in the summertime are dependent on young fish, to feed their own young on. They're the right package size, if you like, in order for it to catch, carry and feed to their young.

"If they [the fish] have shifted, then it's just not optimal for them to be nesting where they previously did. It'll be too far for them to fly.

Mr Packham calls the 'energetic economics' of the birds' present situation simply 'implausible'.

"What we've found with satellite tracking of birds on the Isle of Man, such as shearwaters, is that they're traveling vast distances to find their food.

"They're going way up above Northern Ireland or way down the Irish Sea, into part of the Atlantic in order to find their food."

In light of what has been coined as the 'ecological and climate emergency' the BBC Springwatch presenter, pictured above, addressed a crowd in front of a pink boat in Oxford Circus, earlier in the year.

He endorses the 'peaceful, polite and passive' Extinction Rebellion demonstrations which disrupted the city of London for 10 days and resulted in over a thousand arrests.

"There are plenty of people out there who are cowering in the shadows of a problem which is going to bite them very hard in the bottom. It's time for them to get out, get on their soapbox and start telling everyone the truth about what's going on."

Mr Packham's show 'Pictures From the Edge of the World' comes to the Gaiety Theatre on Wednesday evening.

Tickets are available to order here

You can listen to Manx Radio's full interview with Chris Packham below, where he discusses the need for activism, buying an electric car and his regard for the Island's wildlife:

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