The initiative, which aims to expand the range of blackgrouse, has been made possible by a new injection of cash from Natural England (NE) and a contribution from the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) and the RSPB are joint lead partners for the Government’s Biodiversity Action Plan for blackgrouse, and are expanding The North Pennines Black Grouse Recovery Project, which is lead by Philip Warren and Kim Anderton.

So far, this 12-year partnership project between the GWCT, NE, RSPB, Ministry of Defence, North Pennines AONB Partnership and Northumbrian Water has managed to increase the English blackgrouse population from just 773 males in 1998 to 1,029 males in 2006 — an average increase of four per cent per annum.

The next phase of the project aims to replicate this success in two key areas — the Yorkshire Dales and north-west Northumberland. Phil Warren commented: “The launch of The Yorkshire Dales Black Grouse Recovery Group in July will be a real milestone in blackgrouse recovery. In the Yorkshire Dales, blackgrouse have responded fantastically to management implemented by grouse moor owners, gamekeepers and farmers with an increase in numbers from 58 to 138 males between 1998 and 2006.”

The rest of this article appears in 8 May issue of Shooting Times.

John Barrett from Natural England spots the lek from one of the cars

Breathtaking Teesdale countryside

Blackgrouse Recovery Policy Officer Phil Warren points out a blackcock to colleague Kim Anderton

The Independent’s Rob Sharp also covered the launch

Despite the rain, Natural England’s Mel Capper got a good view of the lek

The lekking site

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