Scottish Government to tackle Golden Eagle deaths



I was pleased to be able to write this back in April:

‘Scotland’s iconic Golden Eagle population continues to grow impressively. Breeding pair numbers now stand at 508, from 442 and up 16% from 2003.’

However, things are clearly not quite as optimistic as it seemed at the time. On the site we could read only yesterday:

‘Almost a third of golden eagles being tracked by satellite died in suspicious circumstances, scientists have found. The Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) research identified that the majority of cases were found where land is intensively managed for driven grouse shooting.’

This news has prompted the Scottish government to act. The Environment Secretary has announced these:

  • Set up an independently-led group to look at the environmental impact of grouse moor management practices such as Muirburn, the use of medicated grit and mountain hare culls, and to recommend options for regulation including licensing and other measures which could be put in place without new primary legislation;
    • Immediately review all available legal measures which could be used to target geographical areas of concern;
    • Increase resources for the detection and investigation of wildlife crime and work with Police Scotland to pilot the use of special constables in the Cairngorms National Park;
    • Rule out giving the Scottish SPCA more investigative powers, in light of legal advice;
    • Examine how best to protect the valuable role of gamekeepers in rural Scotland;
    • Commission research into the costs and benefits of large shooting estates to Scotland’s economy and biodiversity.

She has also said:

‘We have already targeted wildlife criminals, and those who sanction such crimes, by introducing measures such as vicarious liability and restrictions on the use of general licences. But Scottish Ministers have always said they would go further if required – and that is what I am doing today. The continued killing of protected species of birds of prey damages the reputation of law-abiding gamekeepers, landowners and indeed the country as a whole. Those who carry out these crimes do so in defiance of the will of Parliament, the people, and their own peers. That must end.


2 thoughts on “Scottish Government to tackle Golden Eagle deaths

  1. broadbield June 1, 2017 / 12:38 pm

    We were lucky to see an eagle last week on a hill above Morvich. It flew across the ridge we were on just a few yards in front of us. But Scotland is devoid of many the species that should be around and those that are, are few in number.

    Fraser Darling called the Highlands “a wet desert” and a “devastated landscape”. A sense of how this arose can be gleaned from the following passage in Robert Noble’s book “Castles in the mist” where he quotes from an SNH paper by John Lister Kaye who examined a Game Book from Glengarry Estate:

    “The following is the list of vermin destroyed at Glengarry, from Whitsunday 1837 to Whitsunday 1840: 11 foxes; 108 wildcats; 246 martin cats; 106 polecats; 301 stots and weasels; 67 badgers; 48 otters; 78 house cats going wild; 27 white-tailed sea eagles; 15 golden eagles; 18 osprey or fishing-eagles; 98 blue hawks or peregrine falcons; 7 orange-legged falcons; 11 hobby hawks; 275 kites, commonly called salmon-tailed gledes; 5 marsh harriers or yellow-legged hawks; 63 goshawks; 285 common buzzards; 371 rough-legged buzzards; 3 honey buzzards; 462 kestrils or red-hawks; 78 merlin hawks; 83 hen harriers or ring-tailed hawks; 6 jer-falcon or toe-feathered hawks; 9 ash-coloured or long blue-tailed hawks; 1431 hooded or carrion crows; 475 ravens; 35 horned owls; 71 common fern owls; 3 golden owls; and 3 magpies.”

    Nobel comments: “This amounts to over 4,000 ‘head of vermin’, killed on one Highland estate in three years.”

    Noble, Robin. Castles in the Mist: The Victorian Transformation of the Highlands (Kindle Locations 1526-1532). Saraband. Kindle Edition.


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