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Target set for rare bird numbers

26 November 08 12:30 GMT

Conservation bodies are to work together in a bid to raise the numbers of capercaillie to a target of 5,000 individual birds.

The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) said the species had recovered from falling to 1,000 from 20,000 over a period of 25 years.

The organisation will host a conference on Friday looking at how to increase numbers further.

Loss of native pinewoods has played a part in the bird's decline.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has capercaillie on its red list - species that are globally threatened, or have experienced a rapid decline in numbers.

Species on the red list include bittern, common scoter, white-tailed eagle, corncrake and red-necked phalarope.

The society is among the organisations attending the conference at Boat of Garten Community Centre.

Other bodies invited include Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust.

CNPA said the event would explore the current health and status of the bird, which is the biggest grouse in the world, as well as management issues and future work.

New tartan

There will also be discussions on the species' vulnerability to predators, the disturbance to habitat as a result of opening up areas to the public and strategies to increase protection.

Colin McClean, CNPA's land management officer, said: "This a timely opportunity to examine the current status of capercaillie following the work funded through the Caper LIFE programme and plan the next phase of the recovery of this iconic species."

In 2006, a new tartan named after the capercaillie was spun by Scottish weavers in an effort to help save the endangered bird.

The Capercaillie Tartan was launched by the then Miss Scotland Nicola McLean and incorporated the colours of the woodland grouse.

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