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South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge champions ‘vulnerable’ turtle dove

PUBLISHED: 12:13 14 June 2018 | UPDATED: 12:13 14 June 2018

L-R James Cartlidge MP, Robert Lingard (RSPB senior parliamentary liaison), Nick Oliver, Sam Lee (RSPB)

L-R James Cartlidge MP, Robert Lingard (RSPB senior parliamentary liaison), Nick Oliver, Sam Lee (RSPB)

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South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge has become the latest RSPB Species Champion and lent his name to efforts to halt the decline in the number of turtle doves.

Turtle dove PICTURE:  Les Bunyan/RSPB Turtle dove PICTURE: Les Bunyan/RSPB

The Species Champions project partners Members of Parliament with nature conservation organisations to bring political support to the protection and promotion of threatened wildlife. Each MP becomes a ‘Species Champion’, adopting their own species.

Already Suffolk Coastal MP Thérèse Coffey is Species Champion for the bittern, Norman Lamb MP , who represents North Norfolk, champions the fen orchid while Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner is Species Champion for the ruderel bumblebee.

The project is run by the Rethink Nature partnership, a group of seven wildlife organisations including Buglife, Butterfly Conservation and the RSPB.

Mr Cartlidge’s support for turtle doves comes at a time when the iconic farmland is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the global IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Ideal turtle dove foraging habitat PICTURE Ben Andrew/RSPB Ideal turtle dove foraging habitat PICTURE Ben Andrew/RSPB

Europe’s only migratory dove is highly reliant on the availability of food and nesting habitat in farmed landscapes and surveys have shown that UK breeding numbers have fallen 94% since 1995.

Last week, Mr Cartlidge visited Sudbury farmer Nick Oliver who manages parts of his 150-acre farm to provide the migratory doves with the nesting and feeding habitat.

Mr Oliver said: “Traditionally, turtle doves have always been here on the farm. You would see lots of them, including young birds, but over the years they have got less and less, until one year you don’t even hear them. It’s worrying.

“It’s been two years since turtle doves nested on the farm. I haven’t seen them yet this year, but we’ll see. It takes time to get the birds to return once you’ve lost them.”

RSPB Suffolk area manager Adam Rowlands presenting James Cartlidge MP with a photo of a turtle dove RSPB Suffolk area manager Adam Rowlands presenting James Cartlidge MP with a photo of a turtle dove

Mr Cartlidge added: “I am very impressed to see the work that one of our local farmers is doing. It is a reminder of the commitment at government and parliamentary level to increase our protection of our vulnerable species and environment.”

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