A YORKSHIRE gamekeeper has saved endangered grey partridge chicks after their mum was killed by dog off lead.
George Hare managed to save nine out of 14 rare grey partridge chicks after the nesting mother was killed by a dog in North Yorkshire on Sunday.
The owner of the dog called the local gamekeeper after their pup killed the bird that was reluctant to leave her nest of eggs.
The gamekeeper arrived and kept the eggs warm by using a wet tea towel until another gamekeeper arrived with an incubator.
Amazingly, out of the fourteen eggs, nine chicks managed to survive due to the dog owner seeking help so quickly.
The gamekeeper will now have to feed and nurture the orphaned chicks until they are strong enough to go out on their own.
Yorkshire Dales Moorland Group posted about the incident on Facebook today, writing: “One example of why keeping dogs on leads during the nesting season is vital.
“Sunday evening a member of the public who lives local to one of our managed moorlands contacted the local gamekeeper as her young dog killed a bird that was sat on a nest of eggs (she thought it was a grouse).
“The dog albeit a young dog had never done anything like this before but the hen obviously sat so tight as she was literally minutes from the chicks hatching.
“The dog walker bagged the eggs up but without much hope they would survive, but when the keeper arrived he saw there was 14 grey partridge eggs, of which one was just starting chipping away at its shell.
“Our gamekeeper took them home and put them on the side of the Rayburn on a damp cloth under a tea towel to keep warm and humid, while he waited for one of the other gamekeepers on the estate to bring an incubator up.
“The eggs were transferred to the incubator and luckily 10 out of the 14 eggs hatched. Nine chicks have survived.
The post continued: “Our gamekeeper is going to rear them at home and if any of the wild pairs of greys on the estate have no chicks, he will adopt/foster these chicks to them when old enough, otherwise he will release them.
“Grey partridge are currently a Red List species so despite the fact the hen was taken this is a wonderful success story thanks to the quick thinking of our gamekeeper and the great relations he has with the local residents.”
The post attracted comments from viewers who were impressed by the dog owner’s honesty.
Ann Hesketh wrote: Very decent of the dog owner to do the right thing.
“So many wouldn’t, and quite a few wouldn’t even realise what their dog had done.”
Ced Leeming said: “Nice one. At least the lady had the bottle to tell someone.”
Yvonne Storr commented: “Well done the game keepers and well done the dog owners who held their hands up and did something about it, turning a bad situation into a positive. So many would have just walked away.”
The grey partridge is a medium-sized bird with a distinctive orange face.
Once very common and widespread, it has undergone serious declines throughout most of its range and is a Red List species.
George revealed that he plans to rear the chicks at home and will try to foster them off to wild grey partridge that he already has on his estate.
Speaking today George Hare, 31, said: “On Sunday evening a near-by farmer rang me to say that a local woman had contacted him whilst walking her dog as it had accidentally killed a bird that was sat incubating a nest of eggs.
“She collected the eggs and took them to him and he called me. They thought the eggs would be knackered, as they had started to cool down.
“When I went for a look I realised they were grey partridge eggs, one of the chicks in the egg was just starting chipping away, meaning it was starting the hatching process.
“I took them home and put them on the side of my Rayburn on a damp cloth under a tea towel to keep warm and humid, which is needed for them to successfully hatch.
“Luckily one of the other gamekeepers I work with has an incubator so he brought it to my house and we transferred the eggs to the incubator.
“Over the next few hours the chicks started hatching in the incubator. Out of the 14 eggs, three were infertile and two died in the hatching process, so I have nine chicks.”
George added: “I will rear them at home under a heat lamp and transfer them outside when old enough.
“We have a good stock of wild grey partridge on the estate, if any of the wild pairs have lost their own chicks due to predation, disturbance or bad weather, I will try to foster these chicks to them when they are 10-12 weeks old and let the foster parents take over.
“This story goes to show how important it is to keep dogs on leads during the bird nesting season.”