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Expansion of Capercaillie

Wild living capercaillie and its relative species can be spotted in the west and central part of Asia and most of the Europe. Capercaillie is native to taiga forests of northern and eastern Europe. It inhabits a large area where it lives in small isolated groups (this is true especially for the southern territories), which is the result of inconsiderate wood logging in its mountain territories. Capercaillie occurs in intact areas of high altitudes above 1000 m above sea level throughout the Europe with the exception of Poland and Lower Lusatia. The largest population lives in Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden as well as in the Alps and in Schwarzwald. The Scottish population became extinct, but has been reintroduced and capercaillie became a permanent inhabitant of the local forests. The 2000 estimates suggest that there are over 1 million pairs of capercaillie in Europe. The population, though, has been in decline since 1990 (apart from Russia).

In the Czech lands, we can see capercaillie in Šumava Mountains, Novohradské Mountains, Krušné hory Mountains and in Český les (where it was artificially reintroduced), in Beskydy Mountains or in Králický Sněžník (artificially reintroduced). The last individual species can be seen in the east of Krkonoše Mountains and in Jeseníky Mountains. There are estimates of about 150 courting capercaillie. The largest Czech populations live in Šumava Mountains and in the area of Modrava Plains. About 90% of all Czech capercaillie live in the Czech part of Šumava Mountains, i.e. about 250 individuals. Up to 100 individuals are estimated to occur in the Austrian and Bavarian part of Šumava Mountains. After a population decline in 1989, it started increasing again slowly. The species inhabits the area of about 300 km2 in total. It seems that capercaillie population in Šumava is but a forgotten isle from the colder climate times.

In the past, capercaillie would also occur in forests of lower altitudes. It was abundant in Jihlava region, in Pošumaví region and even in areas surrounding Prague. Recently, it has been artificially reintroduced in Brdy Highlands.

The European populations can be divided into several subspecies:

Tetrao urogallus urogallus lives in population isles of various sizes all over the Europe apart from the Pyrenees and the east and south Carpathians (where we can find Tetrao urogallus taczanowskii and Tetrao urogallus rudolfi). It is further spread to northwest of Siberia. Capercaillie is a sedentary bird. However, especially its north populations are known to migrate in search for food in spring and autumn seasons.

750–1 500 pairs live in Germany, about 500 in Poland, up to 700 in Slovakia and up to 10 000 in Austria.

GPS position

N 49° 7.121', E 13° 17.785'



ECHOS o.s.
Milan Kříž