Great Snipe Gallinago media breeds from Scandinavia east through the Baltic States, Poland and into Russia as far as the River Yenisey (95°E), and winters in sub-Saharan Africa (Van Gils et al. 2013). It is currently listed as Near Threatened, because when last assessed it was considered to be undergoing a moderately rapid population decline.
Globally, it has an extremely large range in both the breeding season (>7 million km2) and in winter (>6 million km2), and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criteria (B and D2). Its population size is poorly known, with estimates varying from c. 118,000–1,051,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2012) to 450,000–1,000,000 individuals (V. Morozov in litt. 2007), but despite this uncertainty it is very large and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criteria (C and D1). Therefore, the only potentially relevant criterion is A, which relates to reductions in population size. Until recently, the population was thought to be declining moderately rapidly, at a rate approaching the threshold for listing as Vulnerable under criterion A (at least a 30% decline over ten years or three generations, whichever is longer), based largely on trend data collated from across its European range for the period 1990–2000 (BirdLife International 2004).
New data collated from across Europe for the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International 2015) suggest that the species is no longer declining so steeply overall (although many national populations in C and E Europe are still declining). A combination of official data reported by 27 EU Member States to the European Commission under Article 12 of the EU Birds Directive and comparable data from other European countries, provided by BirdLife Partners and other leading national ornithologists, suggests that the European breeding population has probably declined overall by only c. 5–15% over the last three generations (14.4 years, based on a generation length estimated by BirdLife to be 4.8 years). This trend is driven by the Russian population, which comprises >80% of the European population and is estimated to have declined by c. 5–10% during 2001–2012. Consequently, the species is now classified as Least Concern at European level (BirdLife International 2015).
Based on its distribution, Europe holds just over half of the global breeding range, with the remainder in Asian Russia (especially W Siberia) and N Kazakhstan. When last assessed, there was no evidence of significant declines in these regions, so the species’ global status was based largely on the decline in Europe. Now that rate of decline has slowed, the limited information available implies that globally the species is not declining sufficiently rapidly to be listed as Near Threatened, and should be reclassified as Least Concern.
Comments on this proposal are welcome, along with any data regarding the recent trend of its breeding population in Central Asia, and of its wintering population in Africa, along with any additional information about the threats currently affecting this species across its range.
BirdLife International (2004) Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International (Conservation Series No. 12).
BirdLife International (2015) European Red List of Birds. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/info/euroredlist
Van Gils, J., Wiersma, P. & de Juana, E. (2013) Great Snipe (Gallinago media). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.) (2013). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. www.hbw.com
Wetlands International (2012) Waterbird Population Estimates: 5th edition. wpe.wetlands.org