Isle of Man study supports red grouse reintroduction
A study of the Isle of Man has recommended reintroducing red grouse to boost the island's dwindling population of the bird.
The Manx Uplands report, compiled by Professor Jim McAdam, said in the past three years breeding had declined.
Research suggests the fall in grouse population was "almost entirely due to predation by harriers and peregrines".
The report said: "The size of the grouse population is an indicator of the health of the upland ecosystem."
It recommended "to at least maintain the current level of upland management and strive to increase it by a controlled and monitored reintroduction of red grouse".Fluctuating population
The red grouse, found only in the British Isles, was reintroduced on the island in 1880 after becoming extinct during the 1830s.
A sudden decline in numbers during the 1980s is thought to have been caused by increased predation, loss of habitat and a succession of weather-related poor breeding seasons.
Since then, the report said, the population has fluctuated between 35 and 70 breeding pairs.
The McAdam Report said reintroduction should be monitored carefully to establish if declining populations have also been affected by a restricted gene pool.
The Manx Uplands Report is the subject of an ongoing public consultation about the future of countryside management.