A spokesman for SNH has told the BBC that the growing population of Scottish white-tailed eagles should not be a concern, in response to the recent call for sea eagle ‘control measures’ from the National Farmers Union Scotland.
The BBC article (here) reports that the NFUS, in return, appears to be wanting to distance itself from any calls for a cull, (perhaps in response to strong public opinion, see here) but does still think that relocating individual ‘problem’ birds might be an option.
Quite what they think that would achieve is anyone’s guess – if you create a vacancy in a viable territory then another pair will simply move in; it’s basic ecology.
There’s also an interesting quote from a Skye farmer, who says that scientists [who disagree with the purported number of lamb losses to eagles] “would say anything to support the continuing rise of the sea eagle“.
Hmm, not sure scientists are renowned for ‘saying anything’, are they? Now who was it that claimed that sea eagles might eat small children….?
There was similar anti-sea eagle hysteria whipped up in Perthshire in 2012, when the Courier headlined with: “Farmers distressed by savage sea eagle attack on newborn lamb” (see here). A later post mortem revealed it was more likely the lamb had died from hypothermia rather than a ‘savage sea eagle attack’ (see here).
Expect to see much more of this nonsense until the new compensation scheme has been agreed. Let’s just hope this ignorant intolerance isn’t used as justification to poison, shoot or trap any more of these eagles, nor fell their nesting trees….
WTE photo by Mike Watson