Number of critically-endangered capercaillie increases

Numbers of critically-endangered capercaillie have increased for the first time in eight years.

The birds are on the verge of extinction in Scotland with numbers having decreased by more than 50% in the last five years.

The latest national survey (2021/2022) estimated there are only 542 capercaillie left in Scotland.

But the latest lek count this spring found 19 more males than last year.

The results of the study also revealed that, although the genetic diversity of the Scottish capercaillie population is low, there is no evidence to suggest it has declined significantly during the 20th century since the first reintroductions.

This spring’s increase has been welcomed by the Scottish government, which has asked the Cairngorms National Park Authority and NatureScot to lead a co-ordinated conservation action plan.

Biodiversity Minister Lorna Slatersaid: ‘The capercaillie is on the verge of extinction in Scotland, however new research shows that there is hope for the species.

‘I know how much work has already gone into protecting one of Scotland’s most iconic birds, and we cannot let these efforts be in vain.

‘This new approach will see NatureScot and the Cairngorms National Park Authority engage and work with a variety of stakeholders whose valuable experience and insight will be crucial in our efforts to protect the species.

‘This is a key milestone in our efforts to implement the recommendations as set out by NatureScot’s Scientific Advisory Group’s report on capercaillie, which includes the removal of deer fences and improving access to appropriate habitat.

‘This is part of our wider mission to address the imminent crisis of nature loss in Scotland.’

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