Tuesday 1st May 2012
Numbers of rare black grouse in the Yorkshire Dales have doubled in two years after the intervention of a wildlife charity.
Figures from the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) show how the population began to fall in the 1990s, but now after two successive breeding years numbers are now up.
The population of rare black grouse, the tetrao tetrix, fell to below 500 males two years ago when the area witnessed the worst winter weather conditions for almost 30 years.
To boost numbers, scientists from GWCT returned 15 male black grouse to one of their former haunts in the Yorkshire Dales. The project involves moving male black grouse at night from areas where the population is stable to a new site in the Yorkshire Dales.
The relocated birds have been fitted with radio transmitters and located weekly to allow scientists from the GWCT to monitor movements, survival and lekking, the birds' mating display.
Dr Phil Warren, from the GWCT, said: "Our spring lek surveys have been very encouraging, with the core population bouncing back following two good breeding years which has provided surpluses of males for us to translocate to the new release area. The transported males have remained close to where they were released, we have observed them displaying and excitingly they have already attracted females, which is good news for this iconic species of uplands moors."
In the first winter, 15 males were released with the aim of establishing a sustainable, breeding population by the end of the three-year project. It is funded by Biffa Award, Yorkshire Water and an unnamed landowner.