The capercaillie, this heather cock with spectacular display, is the subject of a preservation program in the Pyrenees.
In Superbagnères, the departmental council of Haute-Garonne finances their equipment with GPS beacons.
The objective is to better understand the behavior of this fierce bird.
And above all to ensure that tourism, now spread over the whole year, does not become a stressor.
Tourism of the “four seasons”, with mountain bikers (or even trottinetists) in summer, adventurous snowshoe enthusiasts in winter and hikers all year round. This is the recipe chosen by the actors of Pyrenean tourism to counter the inevitable consequences of global warming and cure their dependence on skiing. The confinements helping to create a thirst for large spaces, the formula takes well. Good news for the economy, but which could disturb the famous Pyrenean capercaillie, these large wild song-roosters which are the subject of a preservation program and whose population, estimated at around 4,000 individuals, has recovered. to regress in recent years.
How to parade with its most beautiful feathers in the "song places" in the spring if a hiker comes to interrupt the dredge?
How to brood in the undergrowth in summer if a cyclist is tumbling down?
“That's the whole paradox, the more we move towards green tourism, the more we need to reconcile it with nature”, underlines Jean-Michel Fabre, vice-president in charge of the environment of the Departmental Council of Haute-Savoie. Garonne, which manages three ski areas.
The community has just funded four GPS beacons, which agents from the French Biodiversity Office are currently responsible for fixing - with a harness, backpack style - on capercaillie, momentarily captured on the Luchon estate. -Superbagnères.
" Acquire knowledge "
“Behind these guidelines, we especially want to acquire knowledge about this emblematic species and make it available to everyone,” continues the elected official. We want to make it a sentinel species that can guide us in our developments ”. Even if it means blocking certain paths "if it proves necessary" at the time of the parade.
"Or not to clear a fallen tree or to leave brushwood on the tracks in the summer", suggests Kévin Foulché, regional referent for mountain ecosystems at the OFB, which is piloting the study of Superbagnères beacons. Because these four beacons are not the first, five others have been asked since 2018. With difficulty. The capercaillie, says the specialist, "is a bird of the edge, of the combat zone, it likes mosaic landscapes, the edges of forests, the undergrowth, the bushes", fierce which is more, in other words not easy. to "equip". The pioneer of GPS, when the beacon was solar, was nicknamed "Ginger". “We followed this hen for an incredible amount of time, almost two years.She nestled not far from a ski lift and showed us how she used the ski area while staying at the upper edge of the forest, ”explains Kévin Foulché.
The technician also quotes two roosters "bitten by a fox or a marten" and the more strange case of a "traveling" rooster.
"We realized that he had gone on vacation by falling squarely into another valley."
Surprising but "valuable for identifying ecological corridors" to be preserved.
Breeding, preferred routes, the new markers will help refine the data to make Superbagnères a “tetras-friendly” area.
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Hautes-Pyrénées: Authorizations to hunt capercaillie are again (very) expensive for the State
This is the great paradox.
Protected in the Alps, the great tértras remains "huntable" in the Pyrenees where the prefectural decrees authorizing to shoot it continue to feed the judicial chronicle, with decisions rendered, once the season is over.
The OFB estimates that the "samples" of hunters are "10 to 20 birds per year".