The rapid decline in waders such as curlew and lapwing is an environmental disaster happening in front of our eyes.
Twenty-five years of peer-reviewed research by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust into the impact of the legal predator control of foxes and crows has shown the benefit to ground nesting birds.
Most recently this showed that in the Borders the breeding success of curlew, lapwing and golden plover was on average three times greater than on land where predators were not controlled. It is as simple as that. This and other evidence means Scottish Government and now Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) have chosen to licence the control of corvids using a variety of traps over the past 20-plus years.
Research indicates that the most commonly used traps are effective and humane when used well and are now very unlikely to attract non-crow species following changes to baits that can be used in 2013.
Ironically, these traps are very likely to have helped the expansion of the buzzard to its present levels, by largely removing the need to use poison baits.
We welcome SNH’s intention to further improve use of these traps this year by conducting more research.
The GWCT’s publication, Waders on the Fringe, is a must-read for anyone involved in rural policy making. If the need for predation control is not heeded, we will continue to lose our waders. However, with good predator control we can live in a black and white world – one full of lapwings.
Scottish Land & Estates Moorland Group