While we welcome the BBC highlighting the decline of grey partridge in Britain (Short Cuts, Radio 4, 24 March), sadly the reporters have their numbers all wrong. Although numbers have declined by more than 90% since the 1960s, their claim that “today there are only about 100 grey partridges left in the UK” is not just incorrect, but wildly inaccurate.
The national population figures published by the Avian Population Estimates Panel this February estimates that there are 37,000 pairs in the UK. An error of this magnitude is the same as estimating that the human population of the UK stands at 90,000 individuals.
Our research shows that grey partridges can thrive where the conditions are right. As the programme suggests, herbicide and insecticide does have an impact, as does hedgerow loss and an increase in numbers of generalist predators.
However, there are measures, many available within current agri-environment schemes, that can address these issues. We are reliant on the conservation work of farmers and gamekeepers in reversing these declines and many across the country are currently doing this.
More information can be found here and here.
Press & Publications Manager
Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust