Page last updated at 11:08 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Plans to help halt puffin decline

Jersey's puffin population has dropped dramatically over the past century

Plans are under way to try to help halt the declining population of puffins in Jersey.

The States' Planning and Environment department has set up a specialist "Seabird Group" to coordinate efforts to protect the island's seabirds.

A monitoring study is to be carried out to try to determine the reason for the decline in Jersey's puffin population.

The birds have lived on the cliffs near the old Pontin's holiday village at Plemont for about 100 years.

In the 1950s there were more than 1,000 pairs of puffins living around the island but now only about a dozen pairs remain.

Protection zone

It is thought that several factors could have affected the puffins' survival, including climate change and food shortages due to seagulls and animals.

Under the Seabird Group's direction, commercial fisherman have agreed to help monitor the puffins.

Together with recreational boaters such as canoeists, they have also agreed to follow the Jersey Marine and Coastal Wildlife Watching Code which ensures that animals and birds are not disturbed.

Plans are also to be discussed at a later date on the feasibility of setting up a voluntary protection zone at the site where the puffins live.

An experimental trapping programme is also to be carried out in the area to try to establish the scale of disturbance of the puffins' habitat and their predation by mammals such as rats and polecat-ferrets.

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