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Saturday, 1 September, 2001, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
Cash offer to save rare bird
The male Capercaillie
There are just 1,000 capercaillies left in Scotland
Scotland's environment minister announces a 70,000 package to help protect one of the country's most endangered birds.

Rhona Brankin has also revealed that she plans to change legislation to make killing the capercaillie an offence.

During the 1970s the rare species numbered about 20,000 in Scotland - the figure is now closer to 1,000.

Climate changes have had their effect on the species
Although climate change has been a factor in the bird's decline, research has also revealed that deer fencing throughout the countryside as a direct impact on its ability to survive.

As a result, the funding announced on Saturday will be allocated to the Forestry Commission for the removal and marking of fences in areas close to known capercaillie populations.

Ms Brankin said she would introduce changes to legislation during the first few days of the new session of the Scottish Parliament which would make shooting or killing the capercaillie an offence.

'Retain shooting rights'

Andy Miles from RSPB Scotland says the funding move and the law change are very important steps forward.

Ms Brankin, who detailed the plan during the opening of the seventh Scottish Wildlife and Countryside Fair at Vane Farm Nature Reserve, Loch Leven, Kinross. She said: "The capercaillie is a bird characteristic of Scotland.

Many have highlighted the plight of this magnificent bird

Rhona Brankin, Environment Minister
"Many have highlighted the plight of this magnificent bird and I will be laying within the first few days of the new session changes to legislation.

"Only some 1,000 capercaillie remain in Scotland from a population of approximately 20,000 in the 1970s."

She added: "Work will begin shortly on Forest Enterprise and privately managed woodland and I thank the Forestry Commission for their imagination and determination to work with the Scottish Executive in this initiative."

At the end of last year the Scottish Landowners Federation said its members should be allowed to retain their right to shoot one of the capercaillie.

The organisation claims it has been happy to comply with a voluntary ban on shooting the bird.

But it does not agree with moves by the executive to outlaw shooting altogether.

See also:

27 Jun 00 | Scotland
Capercaillie plan takes off
20 Apr 00 | Scotland
Let them caper!
23 Feb 00 | Scotland
Wildlife offenders could be caged
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