Public asked to stay away from Capercaillie


Visitors to the Cairngorms have been asked to be aware of the potential risks they pose to Western Capercaillie.

The area's forests are home to some 80% of the UK's small and fragile population of the grouse. Breeding activity peaks in April and the birds are especially vulnerable to disturbance at this time of year.

The declining British population of Western Capercaillie is sensitive to disturbance (Terje Kolaas).

With Scottish COVID-19 travel limits due to relax on Friday, the Cairngorms are expected to be popular with day trippers. The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) said visitor numbers "surged" following the end of last year's lockdown, with hundreds of people drawn to the area's mountains, forests and lochs.

To help protect capercaillie and other ground-nesting birds, CNPA has asked visitors to stick to waymarked paths and keep dogs on leads. The park has warning signs where capercaillie are known, and more advice and information on capercaillie is available on the Cairngorms Capercaillie Project website.

In Scotland there are estimated to be fewer than 1,000 capercaillie. Habitat loss and fatal collisions with deer fences have reduced their numbers.