Early morning spring counts just completed by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust?s (GWCT) researchers revealed that numbers of blackgrouse in north-west Northumberland have collapsed from 100 males to just six since 2002 and that the bird there is now facing ?imminent extinction?.

The GWCT is remaining positive, despite warning that the blackgrouse has suffered a ?devastating decline? over the past 12 months in other areas of the country.

However, there is much better news in other parts. Figures show that the 2010 population of 500 males in the north Pennines and Yorkshire Dales has grown to 820 this spring.

Fran Atterton, GWCT?s blackgrouse project officer, said: ?Overall these are fantastic results and are a credit to the conservation work that has been invested in our moorland fringes over the past 15 years by moorland gamekeepers, land managers and farmers.?

The rest of this article appears in 15th June issue of Shooting Times.

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