The Moorland Association credits grouse moor managers with boosting merlin numbers
The British Trust for Ornithology’s Atlas data shows that merlin numbers have significantly increased on moorland managed by gamekeepers in the last 20 years and conversly fallen by a similar amount in other upland areas.
Head keeper Fred Mitchinson is delighted. “I take great pride in knowing I have had a direct impact on the success of these wonderful little falcons…as ground nesters, they are very susceptible, not just to disturbance from dogs and walkers, but also predators such as stoats and foxes, who see them as food… when moorland has easy access for visitors, there are always going to be significant impacts” adding “where land is carefully managed and protected, risks are lessened and I wasn’t surprised by the study showing my profession is making a real difference to the survival of these special ‘little peregrines'”.
Chairman of the Moorland Association Robert Benson believes that “gains on grouse moors were important and had helped keep merlin off the Red List of endangered species.”
It is encouraging news for keepers and merlin alike.