Thursday, 26 March 2015
Managing diseases on moorland: our letter in The Scotsman
We were surprised that Mr Murray (letters yesterday) should doubt the clear conclusions of 30 years of peer reviewed research into the damaging impact of tick on grouse populations.
Research by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and others illustrates this effect and also provides practical solutions such as regular sheep dipping and species management which benefits grouse, sheep health and possibly even human health.
Anyone who has ever seen a tick-infested plover chick would surely value such work.
There are incentives to undertake this control at no cost to the public thanks to sheep farming and driven grouse shooting. This should be celebrated because managing diseases on moorland is an expensive business - the cost of treating, vaccinating, fencing and shepherding 1000 sheep in a tick-infested area costs tens of thousands of pounds per year.
Grouse moors are open spaces which can support a number of Scottish wildlife species including mountain hare that benefit from grouse moor management. We believe management plans to limit tick abundance on moorland are a valuable part of supporting moors - provided an informed, planned and balanced approach is taken.
We hope that our current research project with the James Hutton Institute and Scottish Natural Heritage to establish how to accurately count mountain hare (a tick host) will inform and help moor managers develop such balanced plans.
Dr Adam Smith
Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust
Perth Aerodrome, Scone, Perth.
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