Two new scientific reports, one calling for a “ceiling” on hen harrier numbers and the other detailing how harriers and waders can live together were published last week.

According to two scientists involved in studies of harriers and red grouse on Scotland’s Langholm Moor, a ceiling on harrier numbers should be trialled to help end the conflict between conservation bodies and grouse moor managers.

In a new paper Hen harriers and red grouse: science, politics and human-wildlife conflict, Dr Simon Thirgood and Professor Steve Redpath from the Aberdeen Centre for Environmental Sustainability (ACES) have suggested the most effective way of improving the conservation status of harriers on grouse moors might be to apply local ceilings on the number of breeding birds.

“If successful, this could prove to be a way both to minimise the impact of predation on grouse moors and increase the national population of harriers, providing a win-win situation for harrier conservation and grouse management,” said Professor Redpath.

BASC’s Christopher Graffius told Shooting Times BASC fully supports the idea: “Since it recommended this course of action in 2004, BASC has supported a ceiling for harriers on grouse moors as preserving the benefit of grouse shooting while ensuring a massive rise in harriers.”

This month also saw the publication of a separate scientific report which took nine years to compile, based on the first Langholm Moor project in the 1990s.

The report, The impact of raptors on the abundance of upland passerines and waders, was a joint project by scientists at RSPB Scotland, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), the Macaulay Institute and ACES. The paper’s overall conclusion is that raptors and ground-nesting birds can exist together.

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