Man charged for disturbing Capercaillie

Capercaillie male

by bird-watching |
Published on
Capercaillie male ©

A man is being charged for intentionally disturbing a Capercaillie while it was lekking, thanks to work by the Cairngorms Capercaillie Project, led by the Cairngorms National Park Authority, and Police Scotland.

The individual was spotted at dawn by surveyors at a lek site in Strathspey, who were employed by Seafield and Strathspey Estates to count the Capercaillie attending the lek as part of a national monitoring programme.

A new report by the NatureScot Scientific Advisory Committee advises that disturbance by people is one of the main causes of capercaillie population decline, along with predation.

Carolyn Robertson, Project Manager for the Cairngorms Capercaillie Project, said: “If we want to save Capercaillie in the UK we need to act now and work together to tackle the multiple threats to the species, including disturbance. We are pleased that our work with partners and Police Scotland will, we hope, prevent further disturbance to the birds at this critical time of year.
“We know that the birding community cares about Capercaillie. It has been frustrating, therefore, to find a minority of birders actively undermining both the breeding success of the birds and the work being done locally to improve conditions for the bird. If you are in the Highlands this spring with an intention to look for Capercaillie, please don’t. Please follow the signage in Capercaillie areas. The rangers, gamekeepers and volunteers working hard to keep capercaillie safe this breeding season will continue to report people to Police Scotland if they are found searching for Capercaillie.”

Due to their vulnerable status, Capercaillie are listed as a Schedule 1 species of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. This makes it an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb a Capercaillie whilst it is lekking. It is also an offence to:

  • Disturb Capercaillie whilst they are nest building

  • At or near a nest with eggs or young

  • Obstruct or prevent a Capercaillie from using its nest

  • Damage, destroy or interfere with a Capercaillie nest while it’s in use or being built

  • Disturb the dependent young of a Capercaillie

  • Kill, injure or take a Capercaillie

  • Take or destroy the eggs of a Capercaillie

For more information about the Cairngorms Capercaillie Project, visit

Man charged for disturbing Capercaillie

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