Shoots should reduce their woodcock bags and individuals should show restraint when it comes to the species, the GWCT has urged.

Andrew Hoodless, the Trust’s head of wetland research, has highlighted indications that woodcock experienced a poor breeding season in 2017.

Woodcock ringers in Russia recorded the lowest proportion of first-year birds for 10 years; surveys of wings from shot birds in France and Italy also reveal a lower proportion of first-year birds than usual.

As a result, says Dr Hoodless, shooting pressure should reduce in the UK for the remainder of the 2017-18 season.

He said: “Although similar events will have happened many times in the past, this is the first time that monitoring of woodcock age ratios by ringers, and improved communication across Europe, has been able to offer shooters an early warning system.

“Populations normally rebound after such events, but most shooters understand the importance of preserving breeding stocks when there are signs of adverse natural events and are prepared to minimise shooting pressure in order to aid population recovery.”


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