24
Mar
17

41 eagles, 10 years, 0 prosecutions

Regular blog readers will know that from time to time we publish a list of eagles that are known to have been illegally killed, or have ‘disappeared’ (i.e. their satellite tag suddenly stops functioning) in Scotland.

The last update was in August 2016 when the RSPB revealed that eight satellite-tagged golden eagles had ‘disappeared’ on grouse moors in the Monadhliaths between 2011 and 2016.

Last week we blogged about another ‘disappearing’ golden eagle, this time a young bird that had been tagged in Perthshire in 2014 and whose satellite signal suddenly stopped functioning two years later when the eagle was visiting an Angus Glens grouse moor. It’s time to add that eagle to our list.

As before, a number of eagles included in this list (17 of them, to be precise) may not be dead. However, they are included here because their satellite tags unexpectedly stopped functioning (i.e. they’d been transmitting perfectly well up until the eagles’ last known location, often a known persecution hotspot). Two further satellite-tagged eagles (‘Angus’ and ‘Tom’) are not included in this list as although their transmitters stopped functioning, there had been recognisable problems with their tags prior to the final transmissions and so the benefit of the doubt has been applied.

It’s also worth reiterating that the following eagles are only the ones we know about. How many un-tagged eagles are illegally killed each year?

MAY 2006: A dead adult golden eagle was found on the Dinnet & Kinord Estate, near Ballater, Aberdeenshire. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Grampian Police launched an investigation. No prosecution.

JUNE 2006: A dead golden eagle was found on Glen Feshie Estate in the Cairngorms. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Northern Constabulary launched an investigation. No prosecution.

AUGUST 2007: A dead adult female golden eagle was found on an estate near Peebles in the Borders. She was half of the last known breeding pair of golden eagles in the region. Tests revealed she had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Lothian & Borders Police launched an investigation. No prosecution.

NOVEMBER 2007: Tayside Police received a detailed tip-off that a young male white-tailed eagle (known as ‘Bird N’) had allegedly been shot on a grouse moor estate in the Angus Glens. The timing and location included in the tip-off coincided with the timing and location of the last-known radio signal of this bird. The eagle has not been seen again. With no carcass, an investigation wasn’t possible.

MAY 2008: A one year old male white-tailed eagle hatched on Mull in 2007 and known as ‘White G’ was found dead on the Glenquoich Estate in the Angus Glens. Tests revealed he had been poisoned by an unusual concoction of pesticides that included Carbofuran, Bendiocarb and Isofenphos. A police search in the area also revealed a poisoned buzzard, a baited mountain hare and 32 pieces of poisoned venison baits placed on top of fence posts on the neighbouring Glenogil Estate. Laboratory tests revealed the baited mountain hare and the 32 poisoned venison baits contained the same unusual concoction of highly toxic chemicals that had killed the white-tailed eagle, ‘White G’. No prosecution.

JUNE 2009: An adult golden eagle was found dead at Glen Orchy, Argyll, close to the West Highland Way. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Strathclyde Police launched a multi-agency investigation. Three years and 3 months later, estate employee Tom McKellar pled guilty to possession of Carbofuran stored in premises at Auch Estate, Bridge of Orchy and he was fined £1,200. No prosecution for poisoning the golden eagle.

JULY 2009: A two year old female golden eagle known as ‘Alma’ was found dead on the Millden Estate in the Angus Glens. Tests revealed she had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Alma was a well-known eagle  – born on the Glen Feshie Estate in 2007, she was being satellite-tracked and her movements followed by the general public on the internet. Tayside Police launched an investigation. No prosecution.

AUGUST 2009: A young white-tailed eagle was found dead on Glenogil Estate in the Angus Glens. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Tayside Police was criticized in the national press for not releasing a press statement about this incident until January 2010. No prosecution.

MAY 2010: #1 of three dead golden eagles found on or close to Skibo Estate, Sutherland. Tests revealed they had been poisoned; two with Carbofuran and one with Aldicarb. Northern Constabulary launched a multi-agency investigation. One year later (May 2011), Sporting Manager Dean Barr pled guilty to possession of 10.5 kg of Carbofuran stored in premises at Skibo Estate. No prosecution for poisoning the golden eagle.

MAY 2010: #2 of three dead golden eagles found on or close to Skibo Estate, Sutherland. Tests revealed they had been poisoned; two with Carbofuran and one with Aldicarb. Northern Constabulary launched a multi-agency investigation. One year later (May 2011), Sporting Manager Dean Barr pled guilty to possession of 10.5 kg of Carbofuran stored in premises at Skibo Estate. No prosecution for poisoning the golden eagle.

MAY 2010: #3 of three dead golden eagles found on or close to Skibo Estate, Sutherland. Tests revealed they had been poisoned; two with Carbofuran and one with Aldicarb. Northern Constabulary launched a multi-agency investigation. One year later (May 2011), Sporting Manager Dean Barr pled guilty to possession of 10.5 kg of Carbofuran stored in premises at Skibo Estate. No prosecution for poisoning the golden eagle.

JUNE 2010: #1: Leg rings with unique identification numbers that had previously been fitted to the legs of four young golden eagles in nests across Scotland were found in the possession of gamekeeper James Rolfe, during a multi-agency investigation into alleged raptor persecution at Moy Estate, near Inverness. It is not clear how he came to be in possession of the rings. The bodies of the eagles from which the rings had been removed were not found. No further action was taken in relation to the discovery.

JUNE 2010: #2: Leg rings with unique identification numbers that had previously been fitted to the legs of four young golden eagles in nests across Scotland were found in the possession of gamekeeper James Rolfe, during a multi-agency investigation into alleged raptor persecution at Moy Estate, near Inverness. It is not clear how he came to be in possession of the rings. The bodies of the eagles from which the rings had been removed were not found. No further action was taken in relation to the discovery.

JUNE 2010: #3: Leg rings with unique identification numbers that had previously been fitted to the legs of four young golden eagles in nests across Scotland were found in the possession of gamekeeper James Rolfe, during a multi-agency investigation into alleged raptor persecution at Moy Estate, near Inverness. It is not clear how he came to be in possession of the rings. The bodies of the eagles from which the rings had been removed were not found. No further action was taken in relation to the discovery.

JUNE 2010: #4: Leg rings with unique identification numbers that had previously been fitted to the legs of four young golden eagles in nests across Scotland were found in the possession of gamekeeper James Rolfe, during a multi-agency investigation into alleged raptor persecution at Moy Estate, near Inverness. It is not clear how he came to be in possession of the rings. The bodies of the eagles from which the rings had been removed were not found. No further action was taken in relation to the discovery.

JUNE 2010: A golden eagle was found dead on Farr & Kyllachy Estate, Inverness-shire. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Northern Constabulary apparently did not search the property until July 2011. No prosecution.

JUNE 2010: A white-tailed eagle was found dead on Farr & Kyllachy Estate, Inverness-shire. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Northern Constabulary apparently did not search the property until July 2011. No prosecution.

DECEMBER 2010: A decomposing carcass of a white-tailed eagle was found and photographed on Logie (Lochindorb) Estate, Morayshire. It was reported to Northern Constabulary. By the time the police arrived to collect it, the carcass had disappeared. The police said they couldn’t investigate further without the body.

FEBRUARY 2011: The signal from a young satellite-tracked golden eagle ( ‘Lee’, hatched in 2010) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after a final signal from the North Angus Glens. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

MARCH 2011: The body of a young golden eagle was discovered on North Glenbuchat Estate, Aberdeenshire. Tests revealed it had been poisoned by the illegal pesticide Carbofuran. Grampian Police launched an investigation and raided the property in May 2011. A poisoned buzzard, a poisoned bait and a shot short-eared owl were found. No prosecution.

APRIL 2011: The body of a white-tailed eagle was found at the base of cliffs on Skye. The person who discovered it (a professional medic) considered it to have been freshly shot with a rifle, decapitated with a sharp implement and thrown from the cliff top. He took photographs and alerted Northern Constabulary and RSPB. There was a delay of two weeks before the now probably decomposed carcass was collected. A post-mortem was inconclusive. This incident was not made public until one year later after a tip off to this blog. No prosecution.

SEPTEMBER 2011: The signal from a satellite-tracked young golden eagle (‘Strathy’, hatched in 2010) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after a final signal from an Aberdeenshire grouse moor. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

NOVEMBER 2011: The signal from a one-year-old satellite-tracked golden eagle (#57124) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after a final signal from a grouse moor in the Monadhliaths. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

MARCH 2012: The body of a young golden eagle being tracked by satellite was discovered in Lochaber. Tests revealed it had been poisoned with the banned pesticides Aldicarb and Bendiocarb. Information about this incident was not made public until three months later. No prosecution.

MARCH 2012: The signal from a satellite-tracked young golden eagle (‘Angus 26′, hatched in 2011) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after a final signal from a grouse moor in the Angus Glens. This bird’s suspiciously damaged sat tag was found in the area. No prosecution.

MAY 2012: The signal from a young satellite-tracked golden eagle (#32857) unexpectedly stopped transmitting when the bird was north-east of the Cairngorms National Park. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

MAY 2012: The dead body of a young satellite-tracked golden eagle (hatched in 2011) was discovered near a lay-by in Aboyne, Aberdeenshire. The data from its satellite tag & the injuries the bird had when found (2 broken legs) suggested it had been caught in an illegal trap on a grouse moor in the Angus Glens and then removed, under cover of darkness, to be dumped in another area where it was left to die, probably a slow and agonising death. Information on this incident was not released until almost five months later, by the RSPB. It appears the police failed to properly investigate this incident as we understand that no search warrants were issued and no vehicles were searched. No prosecution.

JULY 2012: The signal from a one-year-old satellite-tracked golden eagle (‘Foinaven’) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after a final signal from a grouse moor in the Monadhliaths. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

OCTOBER 2012: An adult golden eagle was found shot and critically injured on grouse moor at Buccleuch Estate, near Wanlockhead, South Lanarkshire. The bird was rescued by the SSPCA and underwent surgery but it eventually succumbed to its injuries in April 2013. No prosecution.

MAY 2013: The signal from a two-year-old satellite tracked golden eagle (‘Angus 33′, hatched in 2011) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after its last signal from North Glenbuchat Estate in Aberdeenshire. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

JUNE 2013: A dead golden eagle was found under power lines on an RSPB reserve on Oronsay. This bird had been shot although it is not known whether this was the cause of death or an historical injury.

JULY 2013: The signal from a young satellite tracked golden eagle (‘Cullen’, hatched 2010) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after its last signal in Aberdeenshire. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

DECEMBER 2013: A two year old satellite tracked golden eagle (‘Fearnan’) was found dead on a grouse moor in the Angus Glens. Tests revealed he had been poisoned with the banned pesticide Carbofuran. No prosecution.

MARCH 2014: The signal from a one-year-old satellite-tagged golden eagle (#129002) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after a final signal from a grouse moor in the Monadhliaths. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

APRIL 2014: The signal from a young satellite tracked white-tailed eagle (the first fledged sea eagle chick in East Scotland in ~200 years) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after its last signal from the North Glenbuchat Estate in Aberdeenshire. Police raided the property a couple of weeks later. No prosecution.

OCTOBER 2014: The signal from a one-year-old satellite-tagged golden eagle (#107133) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after a final signal from a grouse moor in the Monadhliaths. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

OCTOBER 2014: The signal from a two-year-old satellite-tagged golden eagle (#119886) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after a final signal from a grouse moor in the Monadhliaths. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

MARCH 2016: The signal from a satellite-tagged golden eagle (tagged in Perthshire 2014) unexpectedly stopped transmiting after a final signal from a grouse moor in the Angus Glens. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

MAY 2016: The signal from a less-than-one-year-old satellite-tagged golden eagle (#00000583) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after a final signal from a grouse moor in the Monadhliaths. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

JUNE 2016: The signal from a two-year-old satellite-tagged golden eagle (#129010) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after a final signal from a grouse moor in the Monadhliaths. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

JULY 2016: The signal from a two-year-old satellite-tagged golden eagle (#129015 ‘Brodie’) unexpectedly stopped transmitting after a final signal from a grouse moor in the Monadhliaths. A technical malfunction or another mysterious ‘disappearance’?

37 of the listed 41 eagles have either been found dead on, or have ‘disappeared’ on, Scottish grouse moors. (The other 4 have either died or have ‘disappeared’ in other habitat types).

Four of these 41 eagles ‘disappeared’ in 2016. So much for the grouse-shooting industry claiming that they’ve cleaned up their act and that persecution is a thing of the past. The tactics of how to kill an eagle have clearly changed (see here) but the persecution continues.

Last summer, in response to the news that eight tagged golden eagles had ‘disappeared’ in the Monadhliaths over a five year period, Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham ordered a review of satellite tag datato discover if there is a pattern of suspicious activity“.

We are expecting the review to be published some time in April and we expect it to show what decades of scientific research has already clearly demonstrated: that golden eagles (and several other raptor species) are routinely killed or suspiciously ‘disappear’ on land intensively managed for driven grouse shooting.

We expect this review to be a seminal piece of research and if it shows what we anticipate it will show, the Scottish Government can expect to be put under enormous pressure to respond appropriately.

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25 Responses to “41 eagles, 10 years, 0 prosecutions”


  1. March 24, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    EAGLES ARE NOT AS PROTECTED AS THOSE THAT KILL THEM

  2. 2 chris lock
    March 24, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    Paul Chandler is ‘spot on’ when he tells us eagles are not as protected as those who kill them. Big money closes all doors and makes retribution all but impossible!

  3. 3 Stephen Brown
    March 24, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Scottish Govt respond appropriately?You’re having a laugh.

    • 4 Marco McGinty
      March 24, 2017 at 8:42 pm

      What makes you think the Scottish Government is incapable of responding appropriately? There till a lot of work to be done, and things progress at a painfully slow rate, but the Scottish Government is far ahead of the UK Government when it comes to tackling wildlife crime.

  4. 5 Mike Betts
    March 24, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    Hi

    Please change my email address to xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx with immediate effect.

    Regards, Mike Betts

    [Ed: Hi Mike, We don’t have control over the email address you use to subscribe to this site – we’re unable to edit subscriber’s settings. You’ll have to re-subscribe with your new email address]

  5. March 24, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    A change in the law is needed. Instead of struggling to put together evidence against suspect gamekeepers, the burden of proof should be placed on the land owner. Dead native wildlife on your property and you, the land owner become accountable. The land owner should have to demonstrate what they have done to discourage wildlife crimes and how they have supported education around native wildlife in the communities they are in. I would be open to them be given grants for maintaining diversity in habitat and fauna,

  6. 8 Nigel
    March 24, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    Its a disgrace

  7. 9 Northern Diver
    March 24, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    What a lot of “bad apples’!

  8. 10 Chris T
    March 24, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    Aren’t these the exact kind of cases that vicarious liability was brought in for? To punish the estates where repeat offences occurred, even with circumstantial evidence it’s clear there are eagle black holes on certain intensively managed estates. Time for action now, not words.

  9. March 24, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    The Gov’t response to this should be a game – changer.
    If it is not then we know where we all stand & that raptor protection has been rubbished.
    If that is the case then we must up our game & the time for direct action has come.
    2 + Centuries of war on raptors by the unsustainable grouse industry is enough.
    The grouse moors are now the only major landholdings where raptors are not flourishing & where green tourism & all the other benefits of sustainable land use are denied to local communuties.
    I have avoided all these killing grounds for decades, spending my money well away from the Scottish grouse moors, Yorkshire etc.
    The case will continue to build against the land owners & their slaves, the keepers, so expect major reprisals from them, wherever they feel that they can hit back.

    Keep up the pressure !

    • 12 lizzybusy
      March 24, 2017 at 10:26 pm

      If you and friends can get out on to the Moors and check out bird traps, spring traps, drop traps and snares that would be wonderful. Theres open access on the Moors so no need to worry about trespassing. Birders Against wildlife crime is a great starting point for learning about legal and illegal traps n snares and the National Anti Snare Campaign gives great advice on where to find traps and snares. Good luck!

      Even if you don’t get any results from any reports of crimes all of this work emphasises the total inadequacy of the law. It exposes these scoundrels to moral outrage and, eventually, action to stop this scandal.

  10. 14 Chris Hall
    March 24, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    Truly disgusting……SCOTLANDS DISGRACE

    Tip of a very big iceberg.

  11. 15 Dave Scott
    March 25, 2017 at 9:51 am

    Interesting that anti terrorist officers are releasing information blow by blow to the media relating to their investigations into the events in London and across UK including names , places and witnesses giving interviews to national tv and radio.

    Whilst police Scotland are refusing to make public very basic details relating to raptor crime. How do they expect to appeal for witnesses ?

    Anyone could think there is a huge cover up happening.

    41eagles is staggering and highlights the levels of crime.

    Scottish Government surely has to try and reduce this serious problem, one of the obvious ways would be to give SSPCA additional powers

  12. March 25, 2017 at 9:52 am

    Bloody unbelievable..well done for so clearly documenting this.

  13. 17 Les Wallace
    March 25, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    And although it was ‘only’ disturbance let’s not forget the wee incident at Invermark where a sea eagle nest was cut down. Then there’s the times golden eagle nests have been burnt out too. Effing scunnered. https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/police-investigate-alleged-destruction-of-sea-eagle-nest-on-scottish-grouse-moor/

  14. 18 Peregrine Pete
    March 26, 2017 at 8:33 am

    Marco, The Scottish Government have only brought in laws with so many loopholes that a whale could swim through, you must enforce laws to make them work. I stay close to a grouse moor and they are still doing what they do best and that is kill kill kill with imputiny .This caption says it all 41 Dead Eagles ZERO PROSECUTIONS

    • 19 Marco McGinty
      April 3, 2017 at 5:36 am

      To an extent, I agree, because enforcement ultimately lies with government, but at least there is an element of hope with the Scottish Government, something that our colleagues in the rest of the UK don’t have.

      I still think that the small advances are of a positive nature, with the potential for more to come. As for loopholes, they can be closed if there is a will to do so, and I hope that parliament is working away at this.

  15. March 26, 2017 at 9:18 am

    We expect third world countries to fight ivory poaching and illegal killing of threatened animals but we can’t set an example in our own country, it’s a pity we can’t put as much weight behind protecting our own wildlife as we do other countries.

  16. March 26, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    lets not forget that the Golden Eagle is Scotland’s national bird – those who kill and persecute it are actually destroying their own national symbol….but we already know that they are a bunch of ignorant t*ats who dont give a damn for their communities, their country or the Law, so thats no surprise, is it?

  17. March 26, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    Here in NE Hampshire it is clear that throughout the planning process wildlife and in particular EPS have no protection. Our raptors however are not threatened with bullets or poisoning as far as we know, but their habitats are. Diana at Wildlife Support & Conservation

  18. 23 Winston Roberts
    March 27, 2017 at 11:30 am

    I see that there is some good news on the BBC website published today :
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-39384426

    The South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project has been granted £1.3 million in funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

  19. 24 Ironix1
    March 27, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    Whilst there is big money to be made in grouse shooting, eagles will be persecuted with little to protect them. Game keepers will ensure predator numbers are minimal. The only answer is to ban grouse shooting and as that won’t ever happen there is no cure. Sad times.

  20. April 2, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    Absolutely barbaric these land owners gamekeepers farmers mindless clueless individuals should be brought to some justice to see these truly magnificent birds destroyed is an absolute catastrophe I’m hoping these people are caught for there mindless ways


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