Satellite-tagged white-tailed eagle ‘disappears’ in grouse moor blackspot in Perthshire

Press release from RSPB Scotland (17/4/18):


Another satellite tagged eagle has disappeared in highly suspicious circumstances. RSPB Scotland has today (17th April 2018) been assisting Police Scotland in the search for the white tailed eagle in the Glen Quaich area of Perthshire.

Photo of White-tailed eagle ‘Blue X’, by RSPB Scotland

[RPUK map. Red stars indicate last known fixes of satellite-tagged golden eagles that have ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances. Orange circle indicates area of interest. Data from the Golden Eagle Satellite Tag Review, published last year]:

Duncan Orr-Ewing, Head of Species and Land Management at RSPB Scotland said: “This is the fourth satellite tagged eagle (three golden eagles and now one white-tailed eagle) to disappear in highly suspicious circumstances in this very area since 2014. This location around Glen Quaich is dominated by driven grouse moor estates, and has been highlighted previously as a ‘black hole’ for wildlife crime against raptors”.

[Google map of Glen Quaich, surrounded by driven grouse moors]

Duncan continues: “A report published by the Scottish Government last May, prompted by the regular disappearance of satellite-tagged eagles, provided unequivocal evidence that the sudden disappearance of these birds when reliable tags suddenly stop transmitting is highly suspicious.

This is the third of five white-tailed eagle chicks to have fledged from the first successful nest in East Scotland –  the product of a Scottish Government-sponsored reintroduction project – to have disappeared in such circumstances, suggesting it has also been illegally killed.

We call on the Scottish Government to introduce a robust licencing system for driven grouse shooting with sanctions for removal of licences where criminal patterns of behaviour are established to the satisfaction of the authorities. Those that obey the law and conduct their operations within it have nothing to fear from such a regulatory framework.


Eagle Blue X was the 5th chick to fledge from the well known Fife pair. Only one is still alive: one died after landing on power lines (and was recovered for post mortem) and two others disappeared under suspicious circumstances. This is a very high attrition rate for the most important generation in the reintroduction project.

In 2017, 21 volunteers gave up a total of 815 hours to watch the Fife nest and make sure the breeding attempt was successful. They stopped a photographer from continuing to disturb the incubating female and undoubtedly saved the eggs from chilling.

Blue X hatched in 2017 and she was ‘gone’ by March 2018.

Here she is in the nest as a chick (photo RSPB Scotland). All that effort, for nothing.

For how long do you think the Scottish Government will tolerate this blatant criminality that brings shame and embarrassment to the decent, law-abiding citizens of Scotland?

They’ll tolerate it for as long as we allow them to.

Please, consider writing to Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham, who undoubtedly will be as appalled as we all are about this ongoing, out of control lawlessness, and ask her to act. Emails to: CabSecECCLR@gov.scot 

UPDATE 18 April 2018: Pointless search for missing sea eagle ‘Blue X’ (here)

UPDATE 19 April 2018: Deputy First Minister’s constituency a hotspot for ‘disappearing’ sat-tagged eagles (here)

UPDATE 20 April 2018: “It can’t go on – Mark Ruskell MSP speaks out against illegal raptor persecution (here)

24 Responses to “Satellite-tagged white-tailed eagle ‘disappears’ in grouse moor blackspot in Perthshire”

  1. 1 Chris Roberts
    April 17, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    I have nothing but contempt for these killing estates and their gamekeepers. Consign them all to the history books where they belong. This should have been done decades ago.

  2. 2 Falcon watcher
    April 17, 2018 at 6:34 pm

    There is an article in the dundee courier online about this sad story ..gamekeepers in the area out in force looking for this eagle shocking.

  3. 3 Judith Robinson
    April 17, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    Shared and email sent

  4. 4 Loki
    April 17, 2018 at 6:49 pm

    Another eagle. How long is this going to go on for? Till there’s nothing left to grace our skies? Will write to Roseanna. Just sickening.

  5. April 17, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    About time some untagged gamekeepers and landowners disappeared in “suspicious circumstances”.

  6. 8 J .Coogan
    April 17, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    Probably heading for the coast in the back of a landrover as we speak.

  7. April 17, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    I suppose when it turns up in the middle of the North Sea the Morons Association will claim “well, it’s a sea eagle so what do you expect?”

  8. 10 Pheasant beater.
    April 17, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    So, so sad. Such a short life. After all the dedication of the local volunteers, the resolve of RSPB Scotland and the commitment of the Scottish Government, the grouse moor criminals continue their sick practices.
    Not even her “Saint Andrews” wing tags could save her.

  9. April 17, 2018 at 9:20 pm

    until the grouse shooting ends I guess birds of prey will continue to be shot. removal of gun licences. and are game keepers necessary anyway? If there is a genuine reason for them that doesn’t include shooting, poisoning wildlife-what is it. its too difficult to prove and to prosecute. Its time that the wealthy who want to go and shoot birds found another hobby . Look at these insane trophy hunters who are rapidly making elephants, giraffes extinct.

  10. April 17, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    The grouse shooting business are unable to stop the continual shooting of these birds of prey. the killing goes on due to the grouse shoots. otherwise the birds of prey will just continue to be killed. we need the eagles, peregrines and all our birds of prey a lot more than grouse shooting which is for the insane anyway.

  11. April 17, 2018 at 9:38 pm

    They just do not care and kill with impunity, it is a disgrace.

  12. 14 SilverBirch
    April 17, 2018 at 9:58 pm

    Why the procrastination from the Minister responsible?
    I honestly feel that the decent public would have more respect for those who can do something if all guns were confiscated with immediate effect from this estate until the coward who shot/trapped/killed this bird is caught.
    Come on! It isn’t the most populated area and not rocket science to track the culprit.

    Actually, there is sod all in this area, just acres and acres of burned heather, no birds, no wildlife, no sheep, nothing….just a gamekeeper on your back if you are driving or walking over the hill to Kenmore.

  13. 16 David Mcnee
    April 17, 2018 at 10:13 pm

    I know this area.
    Many years ago found a poison baited hare on the hill with 2 dead Ravens beside it. Took location details and photos (nothing to carry it in)called the police once off the hill (no mobile then). When the officer got there it had been removed.
    Nothing happened.
    Next time there a keeper “kindly” asked me to keep to the tracks.
    Many raptors under threat in this area.

  14. 17 walter
    April 18, 2018 at 12:04 am

    Let’s wait and hear the mantra by Scottish Government of how they take wildlife crime very seriously and condem those that continue to kill our magnificent birds of prey etc etc etc etc

    Perhaps additional special constables in the area will help stop the killing of eagles?

    Roseanna Cunningham stop treating the public like idiots and actually do something

  15. April 18, 2018 at 7:49 am

    There will only even be one complete solution to the persecution of not only raptors but ALL our wildlife. Until that day comes nothing will change.

  16. 19 Ralph Barnett
    April 18, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    I have emailed the Cab Sec and have asked for her comment.

  17. April 27, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    Why does the Scottish Government not just by all the land in the area, after all they have just announced that over £2 million was to be spent on a Gaelic dictionary so they have money to throw around (ours as it happens). It will not happen as they do not give a damn about the environment, as it has just been announced that windmills are to be erected at Strathy (after a long campaign opposing this disaster by many of us).

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