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Woodcock under the moon – out of bounds

It is good to hear of the GWCT involvement at top level, last month, when Mike Short of the GWCT was among the All Party Parliamentary Group impressing on a Westminster audience the importance of continued availability of effective, lawful tools to manage predation pressure during the breeding season which will be critical to securing the recovery of some dwindling native species.

Better still, Liz Truss MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, paid tribute to the scientific research of the GWCT and its contribution to developing practical solutions to reversing the decline of our native wildlife.

Mike Short who heads up the Predation Research team said: “The GWCT has invested a huge amount of time and effort in improving the selectivity and welfare impacts of predator control practices. For example, when fox snares designed to allow non-target species to self-release are used in accordance with ‘best practice’ guidelines, they have been shown to pass internationally recognised trap welfare standards, although it’s critical that operators are properly trained in their use.”

GWCT research has clearly shown that the provision of good habitat, in conjunction with legal predator control, can substantially boost species recovery. This is demonstrated by the Duke of Norfolk’s inspiring Peppering Partridge Project on the South Downs. Here, there has been a dramatic recovery of a whole suite of nationally declining farmland bird species, such as our native wild grey partridge, lapwing and skylark. Addressing the meeting the Duke emphasised that without effective predator control the project could not have worked.

Agricology, launched recently, is a new online resource that translates scientific research into practical advice to help farmers become more profitable, resiliant and more sustainable, while protecting the environment.
Founded by three independent charitable organisations – the Daylesford Foundation, the Organic Research Centre and the GWCT Allerton Project – Agricology aims to provide farmers with the best practical information on ecological techniques, regardless of labels via a website, on social media, and through on-farm events.

Under the Moon
Flighting woodcock set the adrenalin rushing and are fantastic sport, but did you know that woodcock “under the moon” as the Game Acts prohibit woodcock shooting between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise. On a dull evening the flight is usually over before this, but on a bright, full moon one the birds can flight late.


The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s research has shown very strong winter site fidelity by woodcock, so those who might be tempted to shoot too many can expect less to come to their particular place next season.

Tim Main is  Chairman of the Shropshire Branch of the GWCT. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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