Protecting curlews: our letter in The Telegraph

Below is our letter as published in The Telegraph on Monday 10th April:

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Help us understand what is driving the decline in curlew

We know that curlew have been doing badly over much of their British range for some time, but very little is known about exactly where our curlew are – particularly in the lowlands. Without this information, it is almost impossible to know how best to kickstart their recovery. If you have, or have had, curlew on your land, please let us know by clicking here.



at 9:23 on 20/04/2021 by rollo f t thompson

Badger has cleared out 3 pairs of grouse on our 10acres of moorland ( not used for shooting ) in 3 days and the curlew disappeared. So sad just as they are breeding and not seeing/hearing them each morning is a real loss.


at 19:02 on 30/08/2017 by Markus Saich

Predation has always been a fact of life, but unfortunately the natural balance has become skewed. Badgers no doubt do consume birds eggs as do foxes, likewise young chicks also fall victim to both. This is primarily due to the huge increase in the numbers of these predators. Foxes are completely out of control here in the South East, where the RSPCA think it is ok to release these unfortunate animals that have been "rescued" from large towns and cities. These animals have no idea how to survive in the wild and can be found riddled with mange and emaciated literally starving to death. Ground nesting bird eggs are probably all these foxes can find. The increased pressure on truly local foxes, is obviously increased. Badgers are also very common and from early spring, they can be seen playing Russian Roulette, with the traffic. Why are these animals protected? They are not endangered and are fast becoming another wild animal that is becoming a real pest. Nobody wants to see these animals wiped out, but look at the millions being wasted in the so called Badger Cull. Let Farmers choose whether or not they wish to control them. Corvids are no longer controlled in the same way as they used to be. A Gamekeeper's wages used to be subsidsed by the number he had shot or trapped. There is a definite link beteween the reduction in songbirds and the increase in these egg stealers. Why do people imagine that Farmers and Gamekeepers wish to exterminate everything that poses the slightest threat to their Sport or Livelihood? The pressure put on these people is not understood by the majority and is not helped by the likes of Chris Packham, spouting his ill informed propaganda! As custodians of the Countryside, the understanding of the balance between predator and prey is second nature and as such their voice needs to be heard and more importantly listened to.

Curlew predation

at 17:16 on 13/04/2017 by Trapit

I agree with Mr Gibson, predators and prey have lived with each other long before we started interfering. There are also areas where everything seems to thrive, it would be nice if there were more of them. However I feel certain that in many cases, we have skewed the environment to favour generalist predators , over species with more specialised requirements. It will be a long time before we can redress this balance over large enough areas,in the meantime assistance needs to be given to improve the productivity of certain species ,by controlling their common predators during the breeding season. Artificial releases of game birds can probably also affect the density of predators,for example ,by encouraging "unfeasable" numbers of Goshawk to nest in close proximity,although other factors are probably involved.

Curlews in the South

at 12:59 on 12/04/2017 by Al Woodcock

Plenty of curlew here in my local area on the south coast - none of it managed for shooting!

Curlew Decline

at 22:40 on 11/04/2017 by Anthony Burnand

Rather than speculate and carry on with the "them and us rivalry", we have an accord over the decline in Curlew, and should work together with conservationists, to find the answers. Nature is so complex that the decline could still be loss of habitat, disease, unlawful shooting, buzzards, or pollution. We know that Badgers can wipe out a tern colony, by eating the eggs, surely land owners know if the Curlew eggs are being plundered as against predation of their chicks. It should be noted that even if Cats are not directly taking curlew chicks, whatever they do take, means that other predators have to source their food elsewhere.

Those Evil Predators

at 22:25 on 11/04/2017 by Iain Gibson

I sometimes think we're on different planets. Why is it that "research" carried out by shooting interests produces different results to research carried out by truly independent scientists? Predators are a perfectly natural feature of the ecosystem, and they and their prey species somehow managed to survive through millennia until man intervened. Rather than slaughter them mercilessly, perhaps we need to carry out some research into WHY the system doesn't appear to be working. I have my own ideas, which are informed by my lifetime's experience as an Ecologist, that some shooting interests exaggerate their results, especially through various presumptions being made to favour the anti-predator stand which is ingrained in the psyche. I say this in the full knowledge that every effort will be made to dismiss or discredit my views, but I firmly believe there is a strong element of constructed evidence used to justify the ruthless killing of predators. Perhaps someone should carry out serious scientific research into why Curlews produce chicks more effectively in unkeepered areas holding a healthy predator population, whereas they seem to be having difficulty in areas which are heavily keepered? I have my own hypothesis as to why this is the case, but not prepared to release it (yet) into the hands of dubious scientists with a vested interest. Let's just say you have yet to reveal the true elephant in the room.

Curlews and Badgers

at 21:13 on 11/04/2017 by Simon Mansell

Shock horror Chris Packhams Spring Watch has discovered badgers eat ground nesting bird eggs. Whatever next - TB has falling, Hedgehog numbers rising in cull areas. Might it be that Badgers enjoys the odd Curlew egg or more?

Curlew habitat

at 21:06 on 11/04/2017 by Barrie Noble

Curlews seem to do best where they have undisturbed habitat, with quiet rough meadows. These are in short supply south of Birmingham. This applies to some other waders e.g lapwing.


at 20:59 on 11/04/2017 by Simon Mansell

Threatened bird species such as the skylark, lapwing and corn bunting are five times more abundant on land managed for shooting than elsewhere, This I believe is even accepted by the RSPB. It seems to me therefore that the shooting community is a far better custodian of wildlife than those who claim to have animal welfare at their its hearts. Sadly it seems there are many who would rather see the decline in wildlife than allow game shooting which offends their urban politically correct sentiment.


at 16:31 on 11/04/2017 by W.Holden

Breeding birds on Meltham Moor.Predators controlled.

Wader Predation

at 11:34 on 11/04/2017 by Frank Pearson

How true this is, maintaining habitat to encourage breeding pairs without protection from predation is simply creating a "trap" for the species in need of help. It is well known that predator populations increase as food becomes available- who can blame them, so some form of intervention is needed to maintain a balance, especialy where aspecies is endangered.

Re: Curlew Predation

at 11:28 on 11/04/2017 by Rob - GWCT

This is taken from the Curlew Country 2016 Nest Monitoring report (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzAUf6k3ZLnsTWxjQzRGX0g1MTg/view): One nest was abandoned, two were badger predated, three were fox predated, two were considered highly likely to have been badger predated, five were considered highly likely to have been fox predated, one was trampled by sheep and three were lost to unknown predators.


at 11:27 on 11/04/2017 by Mr m organ

As a gamekeeper we have health populations of curlew calling at this time of year find corvids are main problem musterlids also problem keep the faith 🌞🌞🌞

Curlew Predation

at 11:17 on 11/04/2017 by Desmond Gunner

Andrew Gilruth says you monitored 19 Curlew Nests and all 63 eggs were predated. Do you know what did it? I believe Badgers are a bigger "Elephant in the room" than cats, and Chris Packham should be well aware of this, having shown a Badger predating 40 Tern and Avocet Nests on TV, but nobody dares say a word against them.

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