Scottish keepers have urged Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to introduce licences to control pine marten numbers or face the loss of the capercaillie for a second time.

The call, from the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA), came after the latest survey into the bird?s numbers showed a 35 per cent decline since the previous study (2003-2004), despite recent conservation efforts involving habitat creation and the removal of deer fences by groups including the RSPB.

The new survey estimates the number of individuals to be just 1,285 of which 75 per cent are in the regions of Badenoch and Strathspey. SNH had originally hoped to increase the population to 5,000 by 2010.

The rest of this article appears in the 29th February issue of Shooting Times.

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