It turns out the best way to get puffins to breed on the Copeland islands is to create a flock of decoy puffin dummies.
The project was a ploy to lure puffins to a better suited island. The initiative headed by the British trust for Ornithology (BTO) is pleased with their results thus far.
“We are really pleased. If we can keep puffins coming back it will become a real tourist spot. People can come in and see them without disturbing them.” spokesman for the group, Shane Wolsey explained.
The BTO has attempted to lure the elusive bird to the island for years. The lifelike puffin dummies have been sitting on the island for years accompanied by a sound system broadcasting puffin noises.
The Copeland island is void of pests, unlike puffin strongholds: Rathlin island and The Gobbins in Islandmagee which are infested with predators such as rats, minks, ferrets and foxes.
Puffin numbers have declined in the past 20 years by around 50%,so wildlife experts and conservationists were keen to move the puffin population to the Copeland islands away from further threats.
“Overall they have declined in Northern Island, but they are one of the commonest seabirds in the north Atlantic. They’re really common in Iceland and Greenland and 10% of the world population breeds in the UK and Ireland,” says Mr Wolsey.
There are plenty of puffins about on the Copelands now. It’s a really good place for them.
The project has shown results but funding has threatened the project’s survival, as the sound system needs to be replaced due to harsh weather conditions on the islands.