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November 13th, 2020

Not all of them are designated for curlews, but some of them are, and curlews are highest priority conservation species in the UK for RSPB, Natural England and GWCT.". On Friday, the curlew task force published a series of recommendations aimed at promoting key policies and action for the conservation of one of Ireland’s most threatened bird species. Ireland because of this has gone from tens of thousands to the last 150 as they have a surplus of predators and are now throwing everything they have at protecting the curlews, controlling foxes and crows. “Recognition must be given to the importance of protecting areas with nesting curlews from afforestation and other damaging land use changes, as well as supporting farmers who maintain high nature value farmland, such as the places where curlews breed.”. Like most wildlife in decline, the main issue is us. Tier 4 lockdown: what would the rules be, and what UK areas could be affected? The loss of these habitats – together with illegal and unsustainable hunting - makes the East Asian-Australasian flyway one of the most dangerous routes for migratory birds in the entire world. The new tier system explained, How do the new Covid tier rules affect me? They are twice as successful in gamekeeper controlled land as they control foxes and crows as part of their job. At the moment, crows and foxes can be killed to protect endangered species if a licence is granted by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), but since last year, after a legal challenge from Chris Packham's Wild Justice, group, permission is not granted on Special Protection Areas or Special Areas of Conservation in England. Perhaps it's their wide range lulling us into a false sense of security that means they have been a little overlooked by conservationists until now. The eerie, 'cur-lee' call of the curlew is a recognisable sound of wet grasslands, moorlands, farmland and coasts. The Welsh and Scottish governments, however, allow for the predators to be killed in SPAs. In Europe and North America, the problem appears to be more on the breeding grounds where land use changes, especially agriculture and forestry, and increased fox and crow predation, appear to be driving the declines, especially in the British Isles, which, along with Finland and Russia, hold the bulk of the world’s breeding population of Eurasian Curlew, and the Netherlands which is the most important source of the nominate race of Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa. “Predation keeps happening until they stop coming back. While the Numeniini and other waterbirds are encounting this threat all across flyways in Central and Atlantic America, and the East Atlantic, this problem is particularly acute in Asia, a part of the world which is experiencing high levels of coastal development. Through the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement of the United Nations Environment Programme, intergovernmental action plans are being implemented for both of these species, coordinated via international working groups. While the hunt goes on for traces of these Critically Endangered species, the paper highlights that attention too should urgently be given to the threats faced by the species we know for sure are still among us. Indeed, two species of curlew may already be extinct;  the Slender-billed Curlew Numenius tenuirostris, last spotted with confidence in 1995, which once migrated between the Mediterranean Basin and its breeding grounds in Siberia; and the Eskimo Curlew Numenius borealis, which once travelled between Canada and South America, and is almost certainly a goner, having not been seen with certainty since 1963 (and not in South America since 1939). “Ireland is only the second country in the world to have declared a climate and biodiversity emergency, but due to the species’ rapid and widespread decline, we are also in danger of becoming the first EU country to lose the curlew to extinction,” she said. The Numeniini are a tribe of large waders consisting of the curlews, whimbrels, godwits and Upland Sandpiper Bartramia longicauda. The report also suggested that Ireland designs and delivers effective predator control to protect breeding curlew, as well as calling for further research into their decline. Alan Lauder, independent chair of the task force, urged people to “take the opportunity to maintain the momentum and to build on the conservation work for curlew as it offers an opportunity for vital heritage conservation, in the broadest sense”. Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Data from the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust shows that if predators are allowed to roam free in Special Protection Areas and Special Areas of Conservation, England's population will plummet by 61 per cent within five years. If you’re happy with that, just carry on as normal (, Paperclip-sized tracker reveals intrepid journey of UK’s smallest seabird, Great Ethiopian Run 2020 supports bird conservation in Ethiopia, Press release: European Parliament votes to ban lead ammunition, Introducing Hatch: boosting conservation from the ground up, Victory: Denmark announces complete ban on lead in hunting ammunition. Because curlews are so long-lived; they live up to 16 years while most birds live up to 4 years, they flee the nest when there is danger because they can breed the next year. Their conclusion: seven of 13 species – or over half – are now threatened with extinction. “Some of the recommendations of the curlew task force are well advanced, while others will require further discussion and consideration across Government. Curlews could be erased from their heartlands across the British Isles within a decade because of intensive farming, which is destroying their wetland habitats. Curlews travel across some of the most dangerous migratory routes in the entire world. The UK sustains one the world's most significant populations of the threatened bird, with only 68,000 breeding pairs left worldwide. We urge you to turn off your ad blocker for The Telegraph website so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future. Oh, and in case you're wondering, the name Numeniini is beleived to be derived from the Greek for new moon, which does describe the bill shape. "These large waders with their heart-stirring calls that are an evocation of the wild, are one of the very most threatened groups of migratory birds on earth" says Nicola Crockford, RSPB (BirdLife in the UK), and co-author of the paper. They are a terrestrial predator adapted to stalking and running. Minister for Heritage Josepha Madigan acknowledged the suite of recommendations.

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