Habitat improvement can help native wildlife populations and the Northumberland National Park Authority has always worked with landowners and managers to give advice and improve conditions for species in the Park. This will always be where our efforts are targeted first. The Northumberland National Park Authority has agreed some principles when managing wildlife to benefit certain species and habitats.
If a species needs to be managed to benefit another rare or threatened species or habitat, the Northumberland National Park Authority will try to use non-lethal methods as the first resort. When this is not possible or practical, lethal control may have to take place.
If lethal control of any animal or bird does have to take place the methods employed should always be humane and to the most recent agreed legal protocols, licences and best practice. Methods should also be employed that aim not to catch non-target species and allow for them to be released unharmed.
Of particular importance are breeding waders such as the curlew. The UK is the third most important country in the world for breeding Eurasian curlew, having nearly 25% of the global population. Breeding curlew have declined by 48% since 1995 in the UK. In 2008, curlews were listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Steep declines have been particularly evident in the UK, between 1995 and 2012, the breeding populations declined by 61 per cent in Scotland and 30 per cent in England (BTO). Northumberland National Park and the rest of the Northern Upland Chain Local Nature Partnership area is an important breeding location for curlews and other breeding waders in England. It is vitally important for the UK and global survival that these populations are maintained and where possible enhanced.
When ecosystems have been disrupted or altered, as most in Britain have, generalist predators can impact on the population of rarer or declining species. These generalist predators may not have been the cause for the original decline, but once populations have decreased they can impact further on survival rates. Research indicates that predators of ground nesting birds such as curlews, lapwings and other waders do impact on breeding success by predating on eggs and chicks. The research evidence points to foxes and carrion crows being the main predators and these are the species we would consider controlling. This applies to our own land and conservation projects on other land in the Park where we may give advice or assistance.
This stance is in line with other organisations acting locally. The NNPA is part of the Northern Upland Chain Local Nature Partnership a group which has agreed to consider control of carrion crows and foxes for wader conservation as a last resort.
Read the Northern Upland Chain Local Nature Partnership statement here.
It has also been agreed that grey squirrels, roe/fallow deer, mink, moles and rabbits can be lethally controlled on NNPA land when necessary using legal methods and best practice. In all these cases other non-lethal methods of control or limiting damage should be undertaken where possible first.
If in the future there is good evidence that species in addition to those listed above become a threat to other native species or habitats and when other non-lethal methods are not practical, they may be lethally controlled for conservation purposes on Northumberland National Park Authority land.
This approach was agreed at the Authority meeting on 15/07/2020 – the full paper and reasoning can be found by clicking this link.