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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 25 February, 2003, 13:31 GMT
Dales plan for black grouse
Black grouse
Numbers of black grouse have dwindled throughout the country
Landowners and farmers in the Yorkshire Dales are being encouraged to create habitats friendly to the black grouse.

The birds were widespread at the turn of the 20th century but numbers have dwindled due to the overgrazing of uplands.

They are slowly returning to Coverdale, Swaledale and Arkengarthdale.

On Thursday the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group is launching a recovery package to farmers and landowners to improve numbers further.

They will be urged to take up grants to reduce their stock of animals, thus protecting heather and bilberry.

Black grouse recovery officer Phil Warren told BBC News Online: "We don't want to get rid of the sheep altogether but create a sustainable level of grazing.

"Black grouse are a key species indicator - where they are you will find other wildlife such as waders."

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