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Gamekeepers protect threatened bird species

The study reveals birds and wildlife flourish in countryside that is managed for shooting. It uses evidence from the RSPB’s upland bird survey and the interim results from the GWCT’s Upland Predation Experiment at Otterburn, to show that predator control, and the patchwork burning of heather to provide feeding and cover on moorland, benefits not only red grouse, but other species, too.

The breeding stocks of red grouse were found to increase by about 400% after three years of predator control, and areas of burnt and short heather provided ideal nesting areas for waders. As a result, the North Pennines is a Natura 2000 site for 700 pairs of golden plover, and 3,900 pairs of curlew.

In addition, lapwings were found to be at least as twice as common on grouse moors than on other unkeepered moors.

Dr Stephen Tapper, the Trust’s director of policy and public affairs, who compiled the report, said: “Gamekeepers make an often unappreciated contribution to the richness of bird life in the countryside.”

“Game management for pheasants, partridges and grouse is a good example of economic land use as it supports a variety of other species as well.”

Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB’s director of conservation, acknowledged the greater impact that predators are having on ground-nesting birds and waders.