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Butterfly population grows in Scotland
The number of small coppers has almost halved since 1979.

New report shows increase in numbers since 1970s.

The number of butterflies in Scotland has increased by 35 per cent since 1979, a new report from NatureScot has revealed.

Despite annual fluctuations in population, often owing to weather conditions, nine species have significantly increased in numbers over the past four decades.

The biggest population growth was seen in red admirals, orange-tips and peacocks. The report suggests that climate change may have played a role, with a warmer climate allowing butterflies to move northward.

Despite the overall increase, three species significantly declined in number: small copper, grayling, and small tortoiseshell.

Small copper numbers have almost halved, with climate change and habitat loss potential causes. The amount of sheep’s sorrel, which is a main source of food for its larvae, has declined since the mid-20th century.

Simon Foster, trends and indicators analyst at NatureScot, said: “Butterfly populations can vary markedly from year to year depending on factors such as the weather and availability of food, but it’s reassuring to see that the overall long-term trend is improving.

“When we look at individual species, however, there are some that are clearly struggling, such as the small copper and grayling butterflies. Habitat and food loss appear to be major factors in their declines so we’re working hard to support them.

“Gardens are becoming an increasingly important habitat for butterflies like the small copper, and wildlife-friendly gardening could counteract a more general decline in urban butterflies.

"Urban green spaces are also vital habitats and projects such as the Central Scotland Green Network are helping connect areas for pollinators, including butterflies.”

Image © Shutterstock

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Charities' XL bully neutering scheme closes

News Story 1
 A scheme that helped owners of XL bully dogs with the cost of neutering has closed to new applications due to high demand.

The scheme, run by the RSPCA, Blue Cross, and Battersea, has helped 1,800 dogs and their owners after XL bullies were banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

In England and Wales, owners of XL bully dogs which were over one year old on 31 January 2021 have until 30 June 2024 to get their dog neutered. If a dog was between seven months and 12 months old, it must be neutered by 31 December 2024. If it was under seven months old, owners have until 30 June 2025.

More information can be found on the Defra website. 

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News Shorts
Avian flu cattle outbreak spreads to tenth US state

Cattle in two dairy herds in Iowa have tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), making it the tenth state in the USA to be affected by the ongoing outbreak of the disease in cattle.

Since March 2024, more than 80 herds across the USA have been affected by the virus and three dairy workers have tested positive. Authorities have introduced measures to limit the spread of the virus and farmers have been urged to strengthen their biosecurity protocols.

Mike Naig, Iowa secretary of agriculture, said: "Given the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza within dairy cattle in many other states, it is not a surprise that we would have a case given the size of our dairy industry in Iowa.

"While lactating dairy cattle appear to recover with supportive care, we know this destructive virus continues to be deadly for poultry."