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Corncrakes, Capercaillie and the RSPB
Letterfinlay, Spean Bridge, Inverness-shire
filed 7 Jan 04
The Press & Journal and other newspapers recently
reported the RSPB view that capercaillie are on the verge of extinction.
As stated in the Scotsman (30th December 2003) the RSPB is predicting
a long-term sustained decline in the capercaillies numbers
and a real threat of extinction for it .
This is not unlike the Societys view of
the corncrake. In a paper published in Bird Study in 1995 and called
The decline of the Corncrake Crex crex in Britain, RSPB
expert Dr Rhys Green concluded that it is likely that the
corncrake will become extinct in Britain before sufficient research
on its demography could be carried out to be sure that habitat management
on the breeding grounds will be effective.
This conclusion did not, however, stop the RSPB
pressing for permanent corncrake European designations, publicly
funded corncrake land management schemes for its own reserves, appeals
and grants for it to buy more land for corncrakes, restriction on
development it felt would be harmful to corncrakes and on-going
monitoring payments from SNH to RSPB staff.
And now the same is happening with capercaillie.
And the Scottish Executive is playing ball. What is this all about?
Dr Green provides one possible answer. Having
argued that corncrakes would die out in Britain, he concluded that
future land management should now be considered as a large-scale
field experiment. Its not difficult to see who the main
beneficiary of such an experiment might be.