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Predators and prey

Adult male sparrowhawk

Image: Dave Curtis (Creative Commons)

Research into the decline of some farmland species has identified the main causes of their decline.

In each case to date, the causes have been changes in land management that have either affected the abundance of food or the quality of the nesting habitat.

Predation can have an additional effect in some situations, but predator control alone will not reverse the decline of any farmland species. Positive land management is essential in all cases. Good management by farmers has already helped to reverse the decline of the cirl bunting in Devon, the corncrake in the Hebrides and the stone-curlew in south and east England.

The following joint statement was put out in 2000 by Dr G R Potts, Director-General of Game Conservancy Trust and Dr M I Avery, Director of Conservation, The RSPB:

'It is unfortunate that magpies are a smokescreen distracting attention from the effects of intensive farming... No amount of predator control will reverse the decline of species such as the corn bunting and skylark.'