11
Feb
14

Sea eagles should be “absolutely destroyed”, says Crofting Commission rep

WTE Mike WatsonHere’s yet another example, as if we need it, of persistent, ignorant Victorian attitudes towards raptors in 21st Century Scotland.

Check out this letter, published this week in the Scottish Farmer:

Vacate your perch!

 SIR, – Listening to and reading about the Winter Watch tv programme regarding sea eagles, I found most of it incredible and so ‘too bad’ as far as the loss of lambs was concerned – they didn’t even mention hoggs or ewes.

Then, for Mr Warnock of NFUS to say: “Sea eagles are here to stay”. Surely it’s time for him to vacate his perch – and if that is the view of the NFUS, what a precarious position hill sheep farmers and crofters are in.

Nothing short of complete eradication will do, and it is the same for the pine martin – both should be absolutely destroyed. The National Sheep Association, the Crofting Commission and Crofting Federation should be backing this to the hilt.

Will Mr Lochhead or Mr Wheelhouse do anything about the sea eagle? No, they didn’t even prick their ears until a danger to our native eagle was mentioned and, for Mr Lochhead to say they are a tremendous tourist attraction is rubbish. If, like me, he had spoken to tourists from all over the world over the last 20 years at ‘Working Sheepdogs’ here, he would know they don’t come for one attraction but to see as much as they possibly can. The oblivion of the sea eagle wouldn’t matter and, indeed, would be an absolute blessing for the countryside and its animals.

DW Ross,

Leault, Kincraig

We believe the author is Mr Donnie Ross, a now retired shepherd who was elected in 2012 to represent the East Highlands constituency of the Crofting Commission (see here). It’s quite incredible that someone in this position of influence is so utterly mis-informed and able to incite the illegal killing of two protected species.

UPDATE 14.30: Looks like Mr Ross resigned from the Crofting Commission in Sept for reasons that are now not altogether surprising (see here).

On a related note, Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse has just answered a Parliamentary Question on the subject of crofters, farmers and sea eagles:

Angus MacDonald (Falkirk East) (Scottish National Party): To ask the Scottish Government how many (a) farmers and (b) crofters applied for compensation under the Sea Eagle Management Scheme, broken down by parliamentary constituency.

(S4W-19252). Paul Wheelhouse: “The Sea Eagle Management Scheme pays for positive management of sheep flocks, in order to reduce conflict with sea eagles. It does not pay compensation for lamb losses. The scheme ran for three years from 2011-13, and closed in summer 2013, but Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) will honour all agreements entered into under the scheme. Through the scheme, SNH offered three-year management agreements (MAs) to land managers.

SNH received 70 applications, all of which resulted in management agreements being offered to the applicants. Of those 70 management agreement offers, 62 have been accepted or concluded by the land manager and 7 agreements were rejected by the applicants. The final management agreement was only offered recently, so it is not known whether the land manager will accept the offer.

Of the 62 concluded agreements:

1 contains ‘special measures to reduce impacts from sea eagles’;

2 contain ‘promotional measures’;

4 contain ‘special measures to benefit sea eagles’;

58 contain ‘sheep management measures’ (The numbers add up to more than 62 because some MAs contain more than 1 element).

Of the 62 concluded agreements:

17 are with crofters/common grazings;

9 are in Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch;

1 in Argyll and Bute;

5 in Caithness Sutherland and Ross (Wester Ross);

2 in Na h-Eileanan an Iar;

2 are with constituted community groups (these are the two ‘promotional measures’ agreements);

1 in Argyll and Bute (Mull);

1 in Na h-Eileanan an Iar;

43 are with farms/ estates (i.e. not registered croftland);

31 in Argyll and Bute;

9 in Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch;

3 in Caithness, Sutherland and Ross (Wester Ross).

SNH has commissioned a review and evaluation of the scheme, on behalf of the assessment panel, and this will be completed by the end of March 2014. It will help inform the design of a new scheme, along with advice/input from the Sea Eagle Stakeholder Group, which advised on the design of the current management scheme.

The expectation is that a new scheme will be launched in late spring 2014. The budget for this has not yet been agreed, nor has its scope and geographical extent. SNH look forward to working with key interested bodies including the National Farmers Union Scotland and the Scottish Crofting Federation over the coming months to design a scheme that best meets the needs of land managers and others with an interest in sea eagle management.

In the meantime, SNH will continue to provide advice and assistance to land managers concerned by sea eagle impacts on their livestock”.

Let’s hope the new ‘scheme’ includes compulsory attendance on a ‘Basics of Sea Eagle Natural History & Ecology’ course before any more tax-payers’ money is handed out.

For other recent examples of blind prejudice against Scottish sea eagles see here, here and here.

White-tailed eagle photo by Mike Watson.


17 Responses to “Sea eagles should be “absolutely destroyed”, says Crofting Commission rep”


  1. February 11, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Very sad – and particularly ridiculous to destroy pine martens since research in Ireland has confirmed the theory that pine martens can actually help red squirrels thrive by competing with (and eating) grey squirrels. See here: http://www.irelandswildlife.com/squirrel-pine-marten/

    @HuwSayer

  2. February 11, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    “they didn’t even mention hoggs or ewes”
    Presumably because a White-tailed Eagle could not possibly kill a healthy hogg or ewe.
    The one exception would be the rare possibility that an eagle could push one off a cliff.
    I have seen footage of a Golden Eagle dragging a goat off a cliff in Spain.

    • 3 Dave Dick
      February 11, 2014 at 8:11 pm

      ..and there is film and eye witness accounts of golden eagles driving red deer off cliffs…but were not exactly running out of red deer at the moment…[gives the lie to the “they have no natural predators” but not exactly a population limiting factor!]….but remember that any allowance for licensed killing comes under “serious agricultural damage” not the odd lamb, hogg or ewe…in the long term if we get the environment into better condition there will be more natural prey for both eagle species..dare I suggest we could start with less sheep?

  3. February 11, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Sea eagles and pine martens to be eradicated? It’s very sobering to think there are people so misguided as to commit views like this to print in the 21st century. I have a lot of respect for (most) hill sheep farmers, they’re coping in very extreme conditions a lot of the time. But misinformation about the challenges they face is unlikely to help their cause in terms of public support, I’d say.

  4. February 11, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    We’ve been sent some evidence that suggests the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association’s Development, Training & Education Officer supports the views of Mr Ross. Just getting it verified…..

  5. 7 Chris Roberts
    February 11, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    DW Ross is an elderly gentleman (like myself) who is, almost weekly, spouting these outdated Victorian values in our local paper ‘The Strathspey and Badenoch Herald’. Basically he is against all predators, both furred and feathered, he is also against the regeneration of the Caledonian pine forest. He gives the impression that he wants Scotland to stay the same as it was in Victorian Britain.

  6. 8 Circus maxima
    February 11, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    If this is the guy I think it is….par for the course. His ambition is to breed sheep that can eat rocks and then have so many of them that they reduce his hill to a car-park. He is the dinosaur that had to sit in the corner at dinosaur school.

  7. 9 Chris Roberts
    February 11, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    DW Ross letter includes a statement about “our native eagle” he seems to forget that the sea eagle was also a native species until his like minded ancestors wiped them out. They. of course, also very nearly wiped out the pine martin and wildcat as well.

  8. 10 dougie
    February 11, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    Why am I not surprised by this ………….. some people in this country are determined to never be anything but dinosaurs.

  9. 11 dunc4kites
    February 11, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    Believe me Mr Ross’s vitriol doesn’t stop at Sea Eagles. His spleen is vented regularly in the local press against anything that isn’t a sheep – trees, eagles, martens, incomers and “non-natives” (human kind that is). It is frightening and sad that his viciousness has finally made it onto these pages. It has been a long and tiresome process living in the shadow of this very nasty individual.

  10. 12 Kenny McGowan
    February 11, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    This man is against any wildlife and the replanting of trees in Strathspey and Badenoch. He is constantly whinging about RSPB, SNH etc if you read his letters every week in the local Strahy newspaper. He constantly harps back to a time when people like him were the custodians of the countryside.

  11. 13 earthtracer
    February 11, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    It might be an idea to return to a basically cattle economy in the Highlands and get rid of the woolly maggots! More seriously, can D W Ross not be prosecuted for inciting people to commit crimes, given his recent position?

  12. 14 Pauline Jacobs
    February 11, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Totally unbelievable.

  13. 15 Dave Dick
    February 11, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    Shame we cant return him to his beloved Victorian times – he would have no electricity, no sanitation, no NHS, a Victorian landlord and a few of the old diseases to catch….Shame on the press for allowing him to air his extremist views..he wouldn’t get away with it if his subject was race or sex discrimination – so why do they let him spout this dangerous rubbish?

  14. February 12, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    The Scottish Farmer has posted a link to this blog on their Facebook page. There’s a hilarious comment from someone called Sandy Mackinnon, who says:

    ” ‘Here’s yet another example, as if we need it, of persistent, ignorant Victorian attitudes towards raptors in 21st Century Scotland’. The Victorians were not necessarily wrong!”.

  15. 17 islelass30
    February 12, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    This constant talk of eradicating sea eagles makes me very angry – what god given right does the human race have to decide what species live and die in order to satisfy our own greed. The sea eagle is a native Scottish species now occupying land it always has historically – it is the greedy crofter that has encroached on their space and interferes with their way of life – not the other way round. In early Christian writings (like the book of Kells) eagles are regarded as god like and were shown the utmost respect – there is nothing Christian about the attitudes of some of these supposedly god fearing people.


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