One of a number of dead Black-backed gulls found and dumped in piles on a Forest of Bowland shooting estate last Saturday 4 June 2016
Now that the two apex avian predators, Hen Harriers and Peregrines, have vanished from the Forest of Bowland presumed destroyed to protect red grouse stocks, estates are attempting to destroy more unwanted biodiversity within this important moorland ecosystem to ensure there are even more grouse to shoot come the glorious 12 August.
This week we received the two attached images from one of our many followers showing a number of Black-backed gulls found dead and dumped in piles on a single shooting estate on 4 June in the western part of Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland. You might ask yourself why would anyone wish to shoot a Black-backed gull? The plain reply is simple, these gulls predate grouse, indeed many grouse, more than any Hen harrier of Peregrine would need to kill to feed their young. Read the information in the pdf document from the Defra web site. The Forest of Bowland is home to one of northern England’s largest Black-backed Gull colonies and so represents a prime target for sporting estates who regard the gull as vermin and a threat to red grouse numbers on their Bowland estates.
A further 3 Black-backed Gulls found dead last Saturday, no attempt to bury or dispose of the carcasses in a responsible manner. What would the threat be to other forms of wildlife or humans is poison had been used to kill these birds? Poison has been used several times at various moorland locations in Bowland to control cull numbers. Many of the poisoned gulls die a lingering slow death, often many miles from where they ingested the poison.
Lesser Black-backed Gull: Larus fuscus
Protection measures for population in UK
In the breeding season, the UK’s SPA suite for Lesser Black-backed Gulls supports, on average, 88,633 pairs. This is virtually the whole of the British breeding population, and about 12% of the all-Ireland population. The suite contains about 71% of the international population (total numbers of L. f. graellsii), and comprises ten sites (Table 6.84.1) where Lesser Black-backed Gull has been listed as a qualifying species.
The eight Lesser Black-backed Gulls colonies in the UK that support more than 1% of the international breeding population (Ailsa Craig; Alde-Ore Estuary; Bowland Fells; Firth of Forth Islands; Isles of Scilly; Morecambe Bay; Ribble and Alt Estuaries; and Skomer and Skokholm) were considered under Stage 1.2, and all were selected after consideration of Stage 2 judgements. Additionally, Lough Neagh and Lough Beg, and Rathlin Island were both selected under Stage 1.3 (see section 5.3), with Lesser Black-backed Gull identified as an important component of wider breeding seabird assemblages at these localities.
All the sites selected are multi-species SPAs, important for a range of other birds.
The suite encompasses ten sites in Northern Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland. As the selection of sites under Stages 1.2 and 1.3 resulted in a suite which gives adequate coverage of the population and breeding range in the UK, it was not considered necessary to select additional sites using Stage 1.4.
You can read the full defra pdf about the status and distribution of the Lesser Black-backed Gull below.