Following the news last month that Langholm Project head gamekeeper Simon Lester was resigning (see here), the project directors have now issued a statement about what will happen for the duration of the Project’s final 18 months:
“Undertaking a review of structure and activity over the final year and a half of the project, the LMDP Board Directors have confirmed the project will continue until October 2017, with important changes to the management of the moor.
Directors acknowledged significant project successes in recovering heather habitats, stimulating black grouse numbers and demonstrating the role of diversionary feeding in reducing hen harrier predation on red grouse broods. The many and varied visitors to the project have illustrated the contribution of LMDP to demonstrating good moorland practice. The hard work of the keepering team was central to these results, with valuable support from the project science and volunteers.
However Directors agreed that with no realistic chance of reaching the target grouse density necessary for driven shooting, game keepering should be wound down, ending fully by April 2016. As well as the cessation of traditional keepering activities, there will be no diversionary food provided at the harrier’s nests or further novel habitat restoration. SRDP funded habitat management measures will continue through Langholm Farms.
Importantly the project will carry out another full year and half of monitoring, tracking habitat quality, numbers of moorland birds and the breeding success of the hen harriers over the 2016 and 2017 breeding seasons. This gives the project time to gather further information on the beneficial effects of moorland management, while the project scientists finalise a variety of reports for the Directors to review before publication.
A detailed review of the project’s achievements is available in the 7-year review. A Question & Answer paper, covering the next steps in more detail, will be available on the website soon“.
So, as predicted (here), it looks very much like this project is being set up to be seen as a ‘failure’ by the grouse-shooting industry, based on the claim that red grouse density has not recovered sufficiently to enable driven grouse shooting to occur. That’s a highly contentious position, as the data have shown the red grouse population at Langholm has recovered sufficiently, without the need for raptor culling, to a density which previously supported driven grouse shooting activity (see here, here and here). For some (as yet unexplained) reason, the target density for red grouse in the current Langholm 2 project has been set absurdly high at 200 birds per kmsq, rather than the standard 60 birds per kmsq that has been touted for years by the grouse-shooting industry as being the suitable target density required for driven grouse shooting to take place.
We already know that one of the project directors, Mark Oddy (representing Buccleuch Estates), wants “lethal control” [of raptors] at Langholm (see here); can we expect to now see further calls for raptor culls on grouse moors, based on the ‘evidence’ (ahem) of Langholm 2? We’d put money on it.
The petition to ban driven grouse shooting is doing well – please sign HERE