Raptor persecution data & golden eagle conservation status – anyone see a pattern?

This first map will be familiar to many of you. It’s from the excellent Golden Eagle Conservation Framework report (2008) and shows a summary of the golden eagle’s conservation status in Scotland.

Conservation status was assessed by looking at the data from three national golden eagle surveys (1982, 1992, 2003) and applying a series of regional-based tests such as occupancy, adult survival, sub-adult survival, reproductive output and predicted population projections.

Green = favourable conservation status

Amber = unfavourable conservation status (marginal, with failure in only one test)

Red = unfavourable conservation status (with failure in more than one test)

The results were pretty unambiguous (unless you suffer from willful blindness). In fact, the results were stark. Only three of 16 regions, where golden eagles have occupied territories since 1982, were considered to be in favourable conservation status (the green bits). The most serious failures to meet favourable conservation status tests were in areas largely dominated by grouse moor management (the red bits).

Now, since the Golden Eagle Framework was published there has been another national golden eagle survey (2015) and although the results have yet to be formally published, we do know that there has been an improvement in some areas and perhaps some of the map previously shaded in amber can now be turned to green. However, we also know that the 2015 survey results showed that golden eagles in the eastern highlands and southern uplands are still in serious trouble.

Now have a look at this map. We thought it’d be interesting to take the golden eagle conservation status map and overlay ten years worth of raptor persecution data, gleaned from the various ‘official’ persecution maps (such as those from PAW Scotland). It’s been done at a crude scale, because that’s how the official raptor persecution data have been presented over the years, but nevertheless it’s really quite interesting. Can anyone see a pattern?!


25 Responses to “Raptor persecution data & golden eagle conservation status – anyone see a pattern?”

  1. 1 Chris Roberts
    February 20, 2017 at 11:05 am

    Great information RPUK. The patterns are so obvious. That whole area south of Inverness is a national disgrace – surely even the politicians can see that. Of course the SGA will turn a blind eye.

  2. February 20, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Striking piece of work.

  3. 5 Neil Glenn
    February 20, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    And now add the areas where driven grouse shooting occurs? I think we could guess the results…

  4. 6 JBNTS
    February 20, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    I invariably refer to that red shaded area adjoining the English border as the “Southern No-fly Zone”. As long as it exists there’ll never be any real prospect of an English golden eagle population.

  5. 7 crypticmirror
    February 20, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    I do wish colours other than red green amber could be used. Very, very, very difficult for some of us with visual impairments and colour vision problems to tell the areas apart. The dots help isolate the grouse shooting strongholds, but the main map is just one undifferentiated blob.

    • 8 Homer Simpson
      February 20, 2017 at 5:36 pm

      @crypticmirror Does this help at all? I wasn’t sure how to add the persecution dots in a manner that would enable you to see them

      • 9 RaptorPersecutionUK
        February 20, 2017 at 6:15 pm

        Thanks for doing this, Homer!

      • 10 crypticmirror
        February 20, 2017 at 6:19 pm

        It does help a little, and I’m sure for people whose eyesight is not so comprehensively banjaxxed as mine it would help a lot, but even that is somewhat hard for me to see the difference between the bad and the middle bad, and I do not want to sound ungrateful at all because I am grateful for the effort to help, but crosshatching and different patterns are much more useful to me with my very poor eyesight. Like, if one area just had diagonals, another horizontals, another had zigzags, if you see what I mean? I was going to say shades of blue but, while blues and yellows are much better than red/green/brown and grey, even blues unless they are very very different from each other are hard for me to make out. I once saw a chart where the author had used three shades of power blue for the results and it was just as bad as the red/green/grey/brown thing.

        I do thank you for trying, though, and I am sure others will find it much better than the original chart. I’m just bloody awkward is the thing. :)

  6. 13 Les Wallace
    February 20, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    It looks as if the red area is nearly equivalent in size to the green/amber area. So almost half of the range for golden eagles in Scotland is ‘dodgy’ for them. This is atrocious.

    • 14 Homer Simpson
      February 20, 2017 at 10:12 pm

      Sorry I had the wrong CRS set before, these are approximate as I only sketched around the mapped areas when making the crosshatched map above.
      Red Area = 25,000 km2
      Amber Area = 16,000 km2
      Green = 15,000 km2

  7. 15 James P
    February 20, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Outstanding work again from RPUK. Why arent the police or the Scottish government publishing this sort of thing? Perhaps we’d have a bit more respect for them if they did this instead of pretending not to know where the problem lies. It couldn’t be any clearer!

  8. February 20, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    If it walks like a duck & quacks like a duck………..

    Keep up the pressure !

  9. February 20, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    It’s disgraceful – look at the so-called Cairngorms National Park (or Cairngorms Grouse Park as I like to call it). Just scandalous!

  10. 18 Lurker
    February 20, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    Undoubted correlation between raptor persecution incidents and Golden Eagle success but correlation does not equal causation.

    Population Density of Scotland

  11. 20 Bill Mackie
    February 20, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Custodians of the Countryside? My arse!

  12. 21 Homer Simpson
    February 20, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    @lurker False news?
    The devil as always is in the detail
    Use the census website http://www.scotlandscensus.gov.uk/ods-web/datavis.jsp?theme=Population_v4_September_2013 to see the map of population density, also interesting click the drop down and choose population change 2001-2011

  13. 23 Jimmy
    February 20, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    Only confirms what everyone knows already – wildlife criminals have an iron grip within our national parks

  14. 24 lizzybusy
    February 20, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    These are government maps of land capability. Personally I can’t see a link between the persecution and land caoacity type. However there are no maps of actual land use eg shooting estates, woodland management, sheep grazing etc.

  15. 25 lizzybusy
    February 20, 2017 at 11:31 pm

    This is the result of my search for shooting estates Scotland.

    [Ed: lizzybusy, we’ve edited the rest of your comment and deleted a further two. What you’re proposing is not possible at this scale and opens the door to libel action]

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