Patrols stepped up to stop disturbance of Scotland's most endangered bird

There are less than 60 male capercaillies in Scotland's forests, and less than 500 UK-wide.

Police step up patrols in Cairngorms to stop disturbance of Scotland’s most endangered bird capercaillies iStock

Police Scotland is stepping up patrols to prevent and detect people causing a disturbance to an endangered species of bird in the Cairngorms national park.

At this time of year, the endangered capercaillie are in the middle of lekking which is when the male birds engage in competitive displays and courtship in preparation for mating.

Being disturbed can prevent mating taking place and with less than 60 males in Scotland’s forests and less than 500 capercaillie UK-wide, officers are working with others to prevent them being harmed.

Wildlife crime officer for the Highlands and Islands, Daniel Sutherland, said: “Disturbance can stop capercaillies from breeding by causing unnecessary stress and we are asking bird watchers, photographers, wildlife guides, and the general public not to seek them out.

“It is a criminal offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to disturb capercaillie when they are lekking, nesting and raising their young.”

As part of the Lek It Be Campaign, led by the Cairngorms Capercaillie Project, and also involving the RSPB, wildlife guides, rangers and land managers, officers will be involved in patrols with rangers around paths and sites where lekking takes place.

Police constable Sutherland added: “We all have a role in protecting these endangered birds. We are asking anyone out and about to look out for alternative capercaillie-friendly routes that rangers have been putting in place. There are signs and CCTV covering areas where the birds are gathering.

“Already this year suitable advice has been given to people seen near a known lekking site. Last year a 65-year-old man was arrested, charged and reported to the procurator fiscal in connection with disturbing capercaillie.

“Police Scotland is committed to preventing wildlife crime and we need the help and support of the public. If you see capercaillie being disturbed then report this to us via 101.”

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