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NFUS 19: Finding balance the key to managing species re-introduction

Finding balance is the key to managing species re-introduction according to Alastair MacGugan, Wildlife management manager at Scottish Natural Heritage.

The challenge he said, would be to find ways of ’working together’, he told conference.

 

Nobody disagreed but there is clearly much work to do.

 

Appin hill farmer David Colthart farms 2,600 acres of hill land and is a member of the National Sea Eagle Management Group.

 

“The problem is the exponential growth in population," said Mr Colthart.

 

By 2017 some 130 breeding pairs were established across the west of Scotland and the islands. The losses of lambs and sheep are such that it is now undermining the ability to keep hefted flocks using hill land.

 

"To keep flock numbers up following predation farmers are having to keep ewes for longer and using poorer ewe lambs as replacements. We are in the third year of an action plan but the measures we are using are not working. The estimate is that the population will reach 900 pairs by 2040.

 

“We cannot carry on his way and NFUS may yet have to lobby for birds to be removed.”


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Aberdeenshire lowland farmer Patrick Sleigh was concerned about damage caused by the ’three Bs’ - beavers, badgers and buzzards. All three species were increasing in range and numbers at the expense of established wildlife.

 

“I used to have 70 or 80 pairs of wading birds on my farm, said Mr Sleigh.

 

"Last year I counted two pairs and no hedgehogs. I feel RSPB has lost its direction and much of the work being done by bodies such as Game and Wildlife Conservancy Trust is being undermined. Conflict has no winners but I fear we are going the wrong way,” he said.

 

Former NFUS president Jim McLaren was concerned about the ’huge problem’ caused by beavers which had now reached his farm on Strathearn as they increased their range.

 

He said: “The need to protect species seems to be contrary to their success in expanding . I urge SNH to put aside thoughts of protection.”

 

Mr MacGugan replied: “We should be clear that European Protection Directives include legal control if required."

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