Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Predator control - showing the real impact

With predator control under the spotlight, many lobbying groups are pushing for an end to several practices used to control predator numbers; practices that give game and farmland birds their best chance of survival.

If we lose the management tools to control predators effectively, numbers of some species could reach historic lows.

Previous research shows that predators caused 43% of ground-nesting bird nests to be lost. This included lapwing and wild pheasants. If our hands are tied in stopping crows and other predators destroying eggs and chicks, the populations of many species face severe decline.

We have drafted a response to the consultation, in which Dr Alastair Leake notes his disappointment that “rather than imaginatively seeking ways to alleviate the crisis reported in the State of Nature report, [the consultation] appears only to seek ways to make the tasks of those most closely associated with wildlife management more onerous.”

Together we must be prepared to provide balanced evidence on effective wildlife management when its legitimacy is challenged.

You can help us achieve this

Click here to support our research >

The regulating authorities need robust, dependable evidence on which to base their policy decisions and very often the GWCT alone is able to provide it. Your support gives us a voice above the crowd.

After studying lapwing, curlew and golden plover in the uplands from 2000-08, we saw that the average breeding pair was 3.5 times more likely to breed successfully if it was in an area subject to predator control.

Dedicated research work is the only way to find the real impact of predation. It allows us to produce the peer-reviewed science that makes people sit up and listen.

With our expertise founded in practical experience, our scientific skills and our reputation for ‘telling things how they are’, we are also well-placed to carry out commissioned research.

Your support for this work can help increase survival rates of several species for years to come.

Having evidence of the true impact of predator control allows us to put the facts in front of other individuals and organisations. This lets those in the countryside get on with what they’ve been doing for decades – looking after our beloved game and wildlife.

Please help provide the science to give game and farmland birds a fighting chance.

Click here to support our research >

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  1. As a a farmer of over 40 years standing in the NE of Scotland I have witnessed the loss of pheasants and farmland birds such as oyster catchers and lapwings This is not the result of modern farming but a surge in the last 40 years of predators like foxes, badgers black mink near rivers and in our area in the words of local SNH person zillions of pine martin who will kill just for fun and have destroyed newly populated pheasant pens overnight. Woods are dense conifers now and never thinned so never disturbed and give plenty of cover for these predators.There are badger motorways up and down the tramlines in the spring barley in the summer and patches are also destoyed by the badgers rolling on the crop
    As an old shool pheasant shooter as a teenager in the sixties we never had to put down tame pheasants as wild populations were sufficient and this is something that irritates the new local human population when they see dopey tame pheasants in their garden watch them being whistled in to be fed and then chased by dogs to be shot.
    A wily old cock pheasant capable of running down a field at great speed and then taking off with a wind behind him and reaching 60 miles an hour is a much more challenging target.
    Perhaps then there woud be less obsession with numbers shot and more concentration on the skills of the shooter.
    I remember Saturday walked up shoots in the sixties where 6 pheasants 3 hares 4 mallard 2 woodcock and couple of rabbits every 2 weeks on just 200 acres of farmland and 50 acres of woodland and all bred on the woods and fields

  2. So game birds, wading birds, songbirds are declining and generalist predators are increasing. Solution: cull the predators. Simple. It makes sense and it's been shown to work.
    Why though is there never any consideration given to why the predators are increasing? Has any research been done on this? I certainly never hear anything about it from the GWCT. It's just stated as a fact without any analysis whatsoever. Is it possible that we're witnessing the phenomenon of shifting baselines? Are predators not simply recovering towards their normal, natural populations following centuries of intensive human persecution. Are farmland birds not declining from unnaturally high populations due to favorable 'traditional' farming practices which have now been largely replaced by intensive systems? Why should predators be culled in an attempt to artificially augment populations of other species we deem to be 'good'?
    These are genuine questions and I'm happy to be convinced, but I feel like the debate I keep hearing is very blinkered.