LONDON (UPI) — Conservationists say they hope to reverse the decline of one of Britain’s most threatened birds, the turtle dove, and save the species from possible extinction.
The turtle dove population in Britain fell by more than 90 percent between 1997 and 2010. he chief aim of the three-year project, led by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, is to protect and restore plants the threatened birds feed on in the British countryside.
The birds exist on small seeds from wild plants that traditionally grow among crops, but changes in farming technology have resulted in increasing scarcity of the plants, including vetch, fumitory and clover.
Conservationists say they’ll work with farmers to plant the seeds on their lands.
“We know that farms have to be modern and commercially successful,” RSPB spokeswoman Heather Griffiths told the BBC. “So we look at how to put in wild seed bird plots on less productive areas of the farm — perhaps corners of fields that are difficult to plow — where they can make a big difference to wildlife without having an impact on the productivity of the farm.”
Turtle doves are considered the most likely bird to be extinct in Britain by 2020, conservationists say.
“If don’t act now, we really could lose them from the United Kingdom completely,” Griffiths said.