A giant hawk pack of up to 100 birds has shrunk in size to the smallest of its kind in history.
A total of about 50,000 birds are believed to have survived the mass cull at the Bairn Island Conservation Area in Ireland, according to a report in The Irish Sun.
The hawk pack was first discovered in the mid-19th century and has since been one of the world most prolific avian predators.
The study, published in the journal Nature Conservation Biology, says the population had declined by as much as 80% over the past three years and it is now estimated the number of birds is around 5,000.
The researchers say the birds’ numbers are still low because of the nature of the cull and the risk of disease from the birds.
Dr Helen Donnelly from the Irish Natural Heritage Trust said: “It’s good news to know that these birds are doing well and in the wild.”
But the population will need to recover and we are trying to get them back into the wild in order to have a good chance of seeing them again.
“The fact that we’re seeing fewer birds in the area and that they’re in a relatively small area is encouraging but we need to be able to manage this as best we can.”
In the long term it could help us to protect our native birds from the threat of extinction.
“What we really need to do is manage the population as much in our own area as possible.”
The cull is believed to be the first mass cull in the UK in the history of the UK.
This comes after a similar cull took place in the north-east of England in September 2016, which saw about 100 birds slaughtered.
The total number of dead birds killed in the cull was also significantly lower than in the previous two years.
Dr Donnelly said:”The birds were slaughtered in the same area, and we found they were very well-behaved and they were able to breed in abundance.”
We have to make sure that we don’t lose them, and the best thing we can do is keep them in the areas we have managed.
“They have been very productive in those areas, and I’m not sure what we can take from them.”
If we’re going to get rid of them, we have to keep them.
“A total £2.7m has been paid to the Irish Wildlife Trust to try to restore the bird population.