19 • 04 • 2012

Capercaillie counting in Latvia’s state forests this spring

To increase the efficiency of capercaillie (wood grouse) protection measures, “Latvia’s State Forests” staff members have launched the inventory of capercaillie mating areas.

Capercailliesare among the most interesting birds and the largest representatives of the pheasant family in Latvia. 90 percent of all known capercaillies in Latvia live in state forests. Even though the number of capercaillie micro-reserves has increased over the past few years, not all of them are inhabited. Local residents and foresters frequently meet these birds not only in forests, but also on roads, in ditches and other previously unregistered locations. International auditors, who arrived in Latvia to inspect the quality of state forest management, experienced an exciting encounter with a capercaillie in South Latgale forestry’s Steķu Forest at the start of the month.


Initial capercaillie inventory data indicate that these birds no longer inhabit several of their micro-reserves and are often seen outside the protected areas. Inventory results provide information about new, previously unknown capercaillie habitats. “Latvia’s State Forests” capercaillie project head Elmārs Pēterhofs: “Even though the extensive information on capercaillie distribution in “Latvia’s State Forests”-managed territories was obtained in a relatively short period of time, the main task is still ahead. We predict that capercaillie mating season will start next week, when it will be possible to estimate the number of mating capercaillies and each mating area. This year, the main task is to obtain precise information on these locations. Capercaillie habitat protection and management measures can be planned and implemented only when their mating areas are known. Our goal is not only to preserve capercaillie population, but also to create quality habitat improvements, ensuring increases in their numbers.”

Even though these are only initial observations, it is already clear that they will help “Latvia’s State Forests” to come up with new measures to improve capercaillie habitats and increase their population. Scandinavia’s experience indicates that it is possible to achieve much more by correct forest management than by imposing strict protection regimes in capercaillie habitats.


LVM Communication Department Head

Tomass Kotovičs