Sunday 4 December 2016

Grouse grumble

Published 21/11/2010 | 05:00

Sir -- As far as bird extinction goes it's not the hen harriers that we need to worry about (Sunday Independent, 14/11/10). As of 2004, in the UK there were around 749 breeding pairs of hen harriers, 90 per cent in Scotland. This is a steady increase from the low point of the 1930s. In Ireland, the harrier has been moved off the conservation red list because its status has improved.

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Of far more concern for Ireland is surely the near extinction of the Irish red grouse, the chicks of which are a favourite food of hen harriers. This species is red-listed in Ireland and in 2005 the Irish Government was reprimanded for failing to conserve it. Ironically, windfarms are highly compatible with red grouse because of the extra management thanks to the economic and infrastructure investment in the moorland.

As in Scotland, the rush to protect the big raptors without reference to other interests does not represent a balanced approach to environmental management.

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