Ruddy Duck Project

Eradication of Ruddy Ducks in the UK to protect the White-headed Duck

LIFE Project Number - LIFE05 NAT/UK/000142

The white-headed duck is a globally threatened species with a world population of only 10,000. Around 2,500 of these are found in Spain - the population having recovered from near extinction in the 1970s. The main risk to the survival of the white-headed duck is hybridisation with the introduced North American ruddy duck. Ruddy ducks were introduced to the UK in the 1940s. They established a feral population after some escaped and this numbered 6,000 by January 2000. Around 95% of the feral European population occurs in the UK. The objective of this programme is to eradicate ruddy ducks in Europe to ensure the continued survival of the white-headed duck as a distinct species.

     white headed duck distribution

 white headed duck

  Global distribution of
white-headed ducks
 White-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala)


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