Capercaillie numbers rise in commission forests

Capercaillie Capercaillie are a threatened species according to the RSPB

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Numbers of a rare grouse have increased over each of the past four years in woodland managed by Forestry Commission Scotland.

Sixty-one male capercaillie were counted this year, almost double the number recorded in 2000.

Lekking cocks - males competing for territory - were counted.

Capercaillie - categorised as a threatened red list species by the RSPB - are found in upland areas of Grampian, Tayside and the Highlands.

Kenny Kortland, species ecologist for the commission, said the increase in male birds followed 10 years of work to improve the birds' habitats.

He said: "Over the last six years we've recorded higher numbers than we did 10 years ago, but the last four years have given us an unbroken year-on-year increase in numbers.

"If you think that back in 2000 we only counted 31 lekking cocks, and this year we counted 27 active leks and a total of 61 lekking cocks, it looks like all the hard work is paying off."

Mr Kortland added: "It just goes to show that it is possible to reconcile conservation management of a species with other objectives.

"In fact, we are noticing that capercaillie appear to breed well in pine forests managed for timber production, and plan to investigate the reasons for this."

Capercaillie breed in 16 commission managed forests.

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