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?!