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Bird on the wire - Rare grouse meet a grisly end in Scottish forests

点击量:   时间:2017-08-04 04:02:13

By Rob Edwards ONE of Europe’s rarest birds is facing extinction because it keeps crashing into forest fences, warn British scientists. A study commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) shows that hundreds of capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) and thousands of other grouse are killed every year in Scotland when they fly into the high wire fences erected to protect trees from deer. Native pine forests, which are among Scotland’s most threatened natural habitats, are increasingly being fenced off to stop deer from preventing natural regeneration by eating saplings. Landowners regard fences as a simpler and cheaper solution than the alternative advocated by conservationists—shooting large numbers of deer. The new study, carried out by the Game Conservancy Trust and published this week, says that collisions with deer fences are a major cause of death among red grouse (Lagopus lagopus scoticus), black grouse (Tetrao tetrix) and capercaillie. The study warns that fences are the main reason that the number of capercaillie in Scotland could fall from 2200 in 1994 to 200 in 2003, a low from which the population may never be able to recover. The researchers made monthly inspections of 16 fences in the central Scottish Highlands between May 1995 and April 1997. They found feathers or corpses from 437 collisions, 183 involving red grouse, 127 black grouse, 89 capercaillie and 38 other birds. They judged that about half of the birds died as a result of the collisions. The number of collisions can be reduced if fences are hung with strips of orange netting, the researchers say. But they stress that this should only be an interim measure. In the longer term the solution is to design “grouse-friendly” fences,