Responding to Cairngorms Nature Project: Capercaillie in the frame for conservation.
A Spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: “It must be questioned how much of a priority Capercaillie survival is, beyond sound-bites, if plans to conserve it make no mention of predator impact.
“The inability of conservationists to grasp the nettle on this is like a group of people trying to rescue their dinner while the house is on fire.
“Millions have been spent in removing deer fences and improving forest habitat, yet the decline of Capercaillie continues.
“Our understanding, from speaking to workers on the ground is that the numbers may be as low as 400.
“On 20 video monitored nests in Abernethy Forest, 65 per cent of nests were found to be predated, 57 per cent of those by pine marten.
“Given this science within the core area, and the rise in number of pine marten, it is surely common sense to proceed with a trial to translocate pine marten from a small core area to monitor the affects of, and better understand, such predation.
“If it is found pine marten have no affect on Capercaillie, then efforts can be targeted elsewhere or in tandem with what is going on, anyway.
“Recent poorly informed press reports inaccurately interpreted such a conservation approach as ‘grouse moors wanting to wipe out Pine Marten’.
“What the report seemed ignorant of is that grouse reside in large moorland areas of the uplands while pine marten roam over large woodland areas. Similarly, this is a small, targeted scientific trial in a key Capercaillie stronghold.
“Attempts by groups opposing such a trial to blacken a legitimate conservation attempt should not be allowed to detract from the fact that avoiding a second extinction requires more than is presently being done.”