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Yorkshire Dales farmers invited to help save the grey

[Monday 09 October 2006]

FARMERS and landowners from across the Northern Yorkshire Dales are being urged to play their part in encouraging an increase in numbers of one of England's rarest indigenous birds on their land.

grey partridge
Dales farmers invited to help save the grey partridge
Photo: Game Conservancy Trust

The County Durham and Northern Dales Grey Partridge Recovery initiative has been set up by The Game Conservancy Trust, a game and wildlife research charity, in a bid to try and boost grey partridge numbers across the region.

The wild grey partridge is one of our truly indigenous species, having been recorded as far back as the Iron Age. But in the past 30 years its population has plummeted from over a million pairs in Edwardian times to just 76,000 pairs. According to the Trust many areas of the country no longer hold grey partridges.

In an effort to increase partridge numbers, the Government appointed the Game Conservancy Trust as lead partner for the Grey Partridge Biodiversity Action Plan to help ensure that the breeding population is above 150,000 pairs by 2010.

Dr Nick Sotherton, Director of Research with The Trust said: "Farmers and landowners across the country are responding fantastically to our call to help save the bird. They are participating in our local grey partridge recovery groups that we have set up and carrying out active management to prevent further declines."

The new partridge recovery group in County Durham and the Northern Dales is being chaired by local farmer and partridge enthusiast Malise Graham from Piercebridge. The launch of the group is described as a positive step forward for partridge recovery in the region.

Mike McKendry, the Trust's Biodiversity Officer, commented: "We are hoping that many of the people attending the launch on the 11 October will become regular members of the group. The aim is to compare notes, exchange ideas and join the Trust's national Partridge Count Scheme.

Farmers and landowners across the country are responding fantastically to our call to help save the bird...

Dr Nick Sotherton - Game Conservancy Trust

"Based on our current research, we will also provide regular updates on what people need to do to manage their land for the benefit of grey partridges."

As an added incentive, the Trust is launching a new award scheme. The Durham and Northern Dales grey partridge trophy will be presented each year to the farm or estate that has contributed most to the conservation of grey partridges in the region.

The group will be officially launched on Wednesday (11 October) at Raby Castle, County Durham.

For further details, or to obtain tickets for the day, contact Lynda Ferguson on 01425 651013 or email lferguson@gct.org.uk

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