Red Grouse Conservation
The red grouse is a red-listed species in Ireland, meaning that it has a high conservation concern because its numbers have decreased drastically. Recent surveys have put numbers at 4,200 but these birds exist in geographically isolated sub-populations. Assessment of the genetic diversity of these birds is crucial in determining the long-term stability and viability of the overall population and regional isolated populations. Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park funded this essential genetic research which is being coordinated by the Irish Grey Partridge Association and UCD.
The results of this study were published in 2010 and showed that there has been an alarming decline in genetic variation among the national population. The results also showed that the Irish population is genetically distinct from the U.K. population. An All Ireland Species Action Plan is necessary to ensure the survival of this species in Ireland. Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park also funded a national conference in October 2010 to gather all the interested stakeholders. A National Red grouse Action Committee has been established and this group will spearhead conservation activities for this once widespread bird.