Urgent and vital action is needed in order to safeguard the future of one of Scotland’s best-loved game birds, the capercaillie.
That’s the conclusion of the latest report from NatureScot, the body responsible for Scotland’s heritage, which warns that action not more research is now required.
The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, which has been in the forefront of research into declining capercaillie numbers in Scotland, says work must start now.
Rory Kennedy, Director Scotland, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, said: “There can be no ifs or buts about this report’s conclusions, which followed the independent review of the huge body of scientific research concerning the plight of the capercaillie. We share the conclusion that we need to move now, we need to move fast, and we don’t need to hide behind the need for more science if we are to save our dwindling populations of this iconic species.
“The actions we need to take are clear – preventing disturbance at certain times of year and deploying effective predator control to allow sufficient brood numbers to stabilise the population. This will mean closing off certain areas from walkers, particularly those with dogs, and restricting mountain bike access to trails where birds will not be disturbed during the breeding season.
“And we need predator management across their entire habitat – control of pine marten and foxes that science has shown are responsible for decimating brood numbers. Pine marten can be controlled through translocation to other areas of the UK, and we must up our commitment to lethal control of fox numbers, however unpalatable this may be in certain quarters. Our own previous research on diversionary feeding for other species would suggest current pilots are speculative and cannot be a barrier for the use of proven interventions now. We also need to learn more about the impact of the large badger population growth within the capercaillie range.
“All involved need to commit to this. There has been denial over this level of necessary action for too long. We have prevaricated and avoided the inconvenient truths. If we want to save our capercaillie it really is now a case of now or never.”
You can view the report HERE