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RSPB praises keepers for caper conservation

The RSPB has praised the work carried out by keepers and private landowners in Scotland in their fight to save the capercaillie, despite this rare bird remaining under ?serious threat from a second UK extinction?.

The most recent survey of the bird, carried out by RSPB Scotland and Scottish National Heritage (SNH), estimates its population at only 1,228 individuals, three-quarters of which are confined to Badenoch and Strathspey. The previous census in 2004 had put the number at around 1,980.

Stuart Housden, director of RSPB Scotland, said: ?There can be little doubt that this decline would be worse were it not for the efforts of public and private forestry managers, land managers and gamekeepers backed by the European LIFE funding programme.?

Once extinct in the UK, capercaillie were reintroduced to Perthshire in the 1830s. As recently as 1970 there were thought to be as many as 20,000 individual birds, but a drop to 1,073 in 1989 triggered intensive work by conservationists and land managers.

The rest of this article appears in 27th April issue of Shooting Times.

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