EFFORTS to protect one of Loch Lomond's rarest bird species are set to fail - with conservationists all but admitting defeat in their bid to save the area's capercaillies. The capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), a large woodland grouse, once thrived in the Trossachs and Argyle, however, across the country numbers have been in decline for the past 40 years. Recent efforts by conservationists to halt the birds' terminal decline around Loch Lomond have failed, with only a handful thought to be remaining in the area. In the 1970s as many as 20,000 capercaillies could be found in Scotland, however, it is thought there is now only around 1,000 left in the country with the few remaining around Loch Lomond growing increasingly isolated from the more stable populations found in the Cairngorms National Park. Alan Bell, natural heritage manager for Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority, explained: "Despite all our shared efforts the simple fact is that no new birds are moving into the area to breed with the resident birds. "Although individual birds were spotted in 2012, we have seen no signs of breeding activity in the last two years. The islands are rich places for nature and the efforts to protect the important wildlife there will of course continue."
The issue has now been taken to parliament by SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell who has tabled a motion praising the hard work of conservationists trying to halt the decline and calling on his fellow MSPs to get behind efforts to safeguard the remaining capercaillie populations in Scotland.
The MSP said: "Conservationists have been working tirelessly over the past few years to protect the remaining capercaillie in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, with Scottish Natural Heritage, RSPB, the park authority and local landowners all working together to try to find a sustainable solution.
"It's disappointing that despite the fantastic efforts of all those involved, it seems that it's only a matter of time before the capercaillie disappear from Loch Lomond and the Trossachs completely.
"Scotland is the only part of the UK where capercaillie can still be found, so it's important that we get behind efforts to safeguard the future of one of our most iconic bird species."
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