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Big Butterfly Count 2021 gets underway
Tortoiseshell butterfly.

Public urged to contribute towards a better understanding of butterfly and moth populations. 

The Big Butterfly Count 2021 is getting underway, with conservationists appealing for help after unseasonably cold and wet weather.

Using the free Big Butterfly Count app, members of the public are being asked to contribute towards a better understanding of butterfly and moth populations, by counting the amount of winged wonders they see in their gardens.

The project was launched at Winchester Science Centre on Friday (16 June) by UK charity Butterfly Conservation and its vice-president and wildlife broadcaster, Chris Packham.

“Biodiversity and climate crisis is an urgent issue and it can be overwhelming to think about what we can do as individuals to really make a difference,” said Chris. “Because butterflies and moths make excellent indicators of the impacts of climate change and other human environmental factors, collecting data on their numbers is really important.

“Something as simple as recording a butterfly spotted in your garden, at your local park or on your window box can play a part in vital research into a global problem. It’s a really valuable contribution everyone can make.”

According to Butterfly Conservation, many butterfly species experienced a poor spring or a delay in their emergence following 2021's unseasonably cold and wet weather. One species that was particularly low in numbers was the speckled wood, but the small tortoiseshell, comma, green-veined white, large white and red admiral were also down in abundance.

Big Butterfly Count's three-week citizen science event is open to everyone of any age, living in towns, cities or the countryside. Participants are asked to spend 15 minutes in an outdoor space, counting the amount and type of butterflies and moths they see.

Last year saw a record 145,000 counts submitted to the campaign - but also saw the lowest average number of butterflies logged in its 12-year history. Scientists at Butterfly Conservation are keen to see if if this trend continues into 2021.

“The Big Butterfly Count, along with our other research work, is already showing us changes in the populations of our butterflies and moths," commented Dr Zoë Randle, a senior surveys officer at Butterfly Conservation. "Climate change and other human-led impacts are causing some species to be found in new areas, while others are becoming harder to find in the UK at all."

She added: “We really need the public’s help to understand what is happening to our butterfly and moth populations. It’s a small but crucial thing everyone can do. This information will not only help us to protect these species but also to inform what effect the changing climate is having on our biodiversity.”

The count is now open and runs until the 8th August. For more information and to take part, visit bigbutterflycount.org or download the free Big Butterfly Count app.

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Vets asked to opt-in to Scottish SPCA fostering programme

News Story 1
 The Scottish SPCA is encouraging veterinary practices to opt into its new fostering programme, by agreeing to register foster animals when approached by one of the foster carers.

The programme goes live in August 2021, and will help to rehabilitate animals under the Scottish SPCA's care until they are able to be properly re-homed. The programme will help the animals to receive care and attention in a stable and happy home environment, as some animals do not cope with a rescue and re-homing centre environment as well as others.

Specific information for veterinary practices on the new programme can be found at www.scottishspca.org/veterinarysurgeons 

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Webinar provides insight into old age pets

A new webinar providing insights into the BSAVA PetSavers Old Age Pets citizen science project is now available free of charge to its members via the BSAVA Library

The webinar presents an exclusive insight into the research process and progression of the study, which aims to help veterinary professionals and owners provide the best care for their senior dogs.

It also discusses the study's research methods, the researchers' personal interests in this area of study, and how they envisage the findings being used to create a guidance tool to improve discussions between vets and owners about their ageing dogs.