Predator Control Helps Partridges
Bird On! Abstract
10th April 1997
In the Journal of Applied Ecology (33: 965-978) Tapper, Potts and Brockless report on six years of experimental treatment of two Grey Partridge sites on Salisbury Plain (Wiltshire, England). Each was about 500 ha in extent.
These proved that predator control during the critical part of the breeding season to reduce the fox, Carrion Crow and Magpie populations. On average about 40 Carrion Crows, 50 Magpies, 30 foxes and 20 stoats were killed each year. These predators were not controlled with such enthusiasm outside the nesting period and so the populations returned in the autumn. The Grey Partridges bred better and had bigger broods when predators were controlled and there were 75% more birds than on the untreated areas in the autumn. Breeding stocks increased by 36% on average. After three years the grey Partridge populations had increased 2.6 fold and the autumn population 3.5 fold. These areas were mostly arable and downland with large fields and were used for military training. These seem pretty good for Grey Partridge but also seem to be the ideal place for predators to operate!