Pick a number, any number

It seems to be the in thing to do….pick a random number, insert the name of an animal (e.g. pigeon, lamb, pheasant, grouse) and then insert the name of a predator (e.g. buzzard, sea eagle, peregrine, sparrowhawk, golden eagle) and bingo! You have a totally unsubstantiated ‘fact’ about the effect of raptor predation that can be used to further demonise birds of prey.

Following hot on the heels of Alex Hogg’s flawed mathematical equation on buzzard predation on his estate (see here), an Aberdeenshire farmer is claiming that golden eagles were responsible for 180 missing lambs [presumably on her farm] this year alone (see here). To support her claim, she posted a video on YouTube under the heading ‘Golden eagle attacking ewe and lamb’. What the video actually shows is a young golden eagle taking a curious look at a lamb and ewe – not exactly what you’d call evidence of an eagle attack! (See video here).

Of course this isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last, that  farmers blame eagles for killing absurd numbers of lambs. In 2010 SNH completed a costly study (at the taxpayer’s expense) to investigate the effect of white-tailed eagle predation on lambs. This followed claims by local crofters that the eagles were consuming ‘200 lambs’ per year in Gairloch. Unsurprisingly, the scientific study found differently (see here).

The question of raptor ‘attacks’ was recently raised in the Scottish Parliament by Alex Johnstone MSP (who happens to be the local MSP of the Aberdeenshire farmer mentioned above). Johnstone wanted to know how farmers might be compensated for ‘what I believe are increasing losses’ [from raptor attacks]. Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson responded by saying that any potential action would need to be ‘evidence-based’. Well said that man. Video footage of the parliamentary question & answer here.


5 Responses to “Pick a number, any number”

  1. 1 Marco McGinty
    July 2, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    The quicker people realise that if you introduce an unnaturally high food source into any given area, predators will take advantage. I once allowed my pet mealworms out into the garden and those pesky Blue Tits ate them all! Is there anything I can do about that?

    • 2 Grouseman
      July 3, 2012 at 7:07 am

      What are you suggesting Marco should we just get farmers to stop preducing lambs where there is eagles present!? There is no doubt fallen stock regulations have had an impact on why eagles in much of the west coast where there is little amount of game (hares,grouse,rabbit) only seem to be able to rear one chick (or maybe its the relocating of chicks to ireland!) Imagine if there was little livestock at all!? In fact why dont we just ban anyone from making a living in the countyside and carry on with the rural depopulation of this country and leave everyone to enjoy coming outr to the contry at weekend to view the barren landscape that will be left once land management is no more!

      • 3 Marco McGinty
        July 3, 2012 at 4:32 pm

        Did I say that, or even suggest anything remotely like that? I’m quite sure I didn’t but the fact remains that if you introduce an artificially high food source, predators will come.

        If it can be proven without doubt that lambs being bred for the food market are being taken, then a compensatory measure could be applied, but unfortunately there are far too many ‘Guardians of the Countryside’ that, instead of gathering facts or evidence, would much rather make requests for culls (and will indiscriminately and illegally kill anyway), simply because they have been brainwashed by their peers.

        And before you ask, no, compensatory measures should not be adopted for any gamebird losses.

  2. July 4, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    We hear of a farmer, farmer Moyra Gray of Scollys Cross, Glendye, near Banchory, who claims to have up to seven Goldies flying about her land. I don’t know about you, but I’m grabbing my binoculars and cameras and at the earliest opportunity I will be heading off to this location to watch and to marvel at one of the most spectacular birds in the world. What a chance to view a bird that Scotland should be proud of having and which is, along with all the other magnificent Scottish fauna and flora, one of the reasons tourists spend millions of pounds visiting us. Here at OneKind we believe in reconnecting people to animals and surely Scotland is that place where people can feel a tremendous connection to nature.

  3. 5 Pip
    July 4, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    If I was a farmer in Glendye and I had 7 eagles flying about the place I’d sell tickets and really clean up – It’d be one of the top tourist attractions in Scotland……………..
    And anyway, with regard to lost stock – the compensation culture in the farming industry seems to have burgeoned out of all proportion recently and if people can’t make a living in the countryside – then there isn’t a living to be made – or their expectations are too high and this, however unpalatable, is simple economic fact.
    We have no problems with rural depopulation in Perthshire – now that every farmer is a property speculator – or turbine farmer (coming to a place near you soon) we have more people living in the rural community than ever before.

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