The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) has been accused of endangering one of Scotland’s rarest birds by backing big housing schemes and promoting tourism.
Four fifths of the UK’s dwindling population of capercaillie live in the national park, but experts say that they are suffering because of escalating interference from residents and visitors.
According to Dr Robert Moss, a wildlife biologist who has made a lifelong study of capercaillie, the CNPA is “conflicted” on the issue. It ignores the advice of its own ecologists, he says.
Moss is the lead author of a new scientific study of three woodlands in the Cairngorms area showing that capercaillie are very vulnerable to human disturbance. The birds stayed hundreds of metres away from places where people entered the woodlands, and at least 70 metres from tracks though the woods.
The study says that capercaillie avoid much larger areas where dogs stray from tracks, and in the most disturbed woods retreat to centres of trackless boggy ground for refuge. Published in the journal, Wildlife Biology, it measured capercaillie distribution by counting their droppings.