The results of the Scottish Farmer’s sea eagle poll have been published.
For anyone who missed it, last week the Scottish Farmer conducted a poll on the following question:
“Should the Scottish sea eagle population be controlled?”
The result? 92% of respondents believed that the Scottish sea eagle population should not be controlled.
What’s amusing about this, apart from the obvious overwhelming support for sea eagles, is the Editor’s note published directly underneath the poll result. It seems that the editor is prepared to dismiss the poll result because he doesn’t think it’s representative of the farming industry’s views.
Now, had the poll result been different, i.e. ‘92% of respondents did believe that the Scottish sea eagle population should be controlled’, do you think the editor would still be dismissive of the result?
Elsewhere in the latest edition is an article on the NFUS meeting with SNH in Oban last week. It’s not that informative in terms of telling us the outcome other than “there were some constructive suggestions for the future” but it did include some information about the farmers’ specific concerns. These were divided into three parts:
1. “There’s not a lot of money in sheep farming and the weather has been particularly tough over the past years“.
2. “The vulnerable population of ground nesting birds, vulnerable sea birds and ground-dwelling mammals such as hares“.
3. “The expansion in the raptor population, which includes white-tailed sea eagles. With all these combined we have got serious conflicts“.
They also claim that, “In Lorne and Mull we are now looking at a population of 90 sea eagles“. Really? There aren’t even 90 breeding pairs in the whole of Scotland! There are, at a stretch, probably no more than 25 breeding pairs in the whole of Argyll, and being highly territorial they will be foraging on their ‘own patch’, vigorously defending their resource from neighbouring pairs and opportunistic transient juveniles. To imply that 90 sea eagles are descending on sheep farms in this area is just absurd.
As we pointed out in our previous blog on this subject (here), it is well recognised, through peer-reviewed science, that some eagles do eat some live lambs (although with minimal impact) but where this does occur then it is fair that the farmer receives compensation. What isn’t acceptable is grossly exaggerated claims of marauding eagles wiping out sheep flocks, ground-nesting birds, sea birds, hares and small children.
It seems that no matter how much evidence is put to them, it’s simply not enough to suppress an inherent prejudice against anything with talons and a hooked beak.