Deputy First Minister’s constituency a hotspot for ‘disappearing’ sat-tagged eagles

Following the recent news that satellite-tagged white-tailed eagle ‘Blue X’ has ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances in the grouse moor dominated Glen Quaich, Perthshire, we’ve taken a closer look at this area.

It was one of the areas identified as a hotspot for ‘disappearing’ satellite-tagged golden eagles in last year’s expert review of Golden Eagle Satellite Tag Data, with a cluster of five golden eagles vanishing without trace in recent years:

It turns out that this area sits within the constituency boundary of North Perthshire, held by John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education:

Another star now needs to be added to this map, representing the last known position of white-tailed eagle ‘Blue X’, although unlike the missing golden eagles we don’t know the precise location of her last known fix, other than it being in Glen Quaich.

That’s six satellite-tagged eagles that have vanished in suspicious circumstances in a small area of John Swinney’s Perthshire North constituency.

We have no idea of John Swinney’s views on illegal raptor persecution and its undisputed link to driven grouse moor management but as a respectable, law-abiding member of society we’d expect him to be as outraged as the rest of us.

What’s different about John Swinney is that he’s a senior member of the Scottish Government and so he’s in a much stronger position than the rest of us to push the Government in to action.

We haven’t seen any commentary from John about the suspicious disappearance of sea eagle ‘Blue X’ in his constituency and it may be that as a busy senior politician it has escaped his attention.

If you are one of John Swinney’s local constituents and you want to know what he thinks, and more importantly what he intends to do about these missing eagles, please drop him an email: john.swinney.msp@parliament.scot

If you are not a constituent but would still like to bring this issue to his attention, and register your disgust that such blatant lawlessness is apparently allowed to continue without sanction, please use this email address and mark it for the attention of John Swinney: Scottish.Ministers@gov.scot

UPDATE 4pm: John Swinney has responded on Twitter as follows:

Photo of missing sea eagle ‘Blue X’, by RSPB Scotland.

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

11 Responses to “Deputy First Minister’s constituency a hotspot for ‘disappearing’ sat-tagged eagles”

  1. 1 Dougoutcanoe
    April 19, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    My email to ” Scottish.Ministers@gov.scot ” :

    For many many years raptors of all sizes have been persecuted on the moorlands used by the wealthy to kill large numbers of grouse. In Victorian times, raptors were legally classed as vermin, not so now, but the shooting estates still live in that uneducated time.

    Hen harriers are prime targets for the illegal killing of raptors but an increasing number of golden eagles and now a white tailed eagle, are missing without trace in the killing estates.

    We do not know how many birds of prey fall foul of the criminals but satellite tagged birds seem to vanish with last known positions on these moors. A recent golden eagle’s tag stopped working for a few days, then using the tag’s mobile phone signal it was traced on a journey, following the circular road around Edinburgh. The tagged eagle, mysteriously, started transmitting again some miles offshore in the North Sea. This was highly suspicious.

    The loss of another eagle in a known raptor killing hotspot is sad. Even worse is the ease with which the criminals, if caught, avoid the justice system.

    In one case, video evidence showing the criminal shooting a hen harrier near a nest. It showed clear identification of the shooting and that person collecting traces of evidence, including the corpse. That person was wriggled out of court by the barrister getting the clear, indisputable evidence, declared inadmissible. This should not happen, perhaps the law needs to change, to ensure that justice is done. It is past time that wealth means “above the law”.

    Please help our raptors to live on for future generations, rather than allowing the criminals on the shooting estates to make them extinct.

    I live in England and near to me there should be many raptors all over our land but the shooting estates have a criminal hatred of raptors and have nearly wiped out the hen harrier population.


    Let’s see if I get an answer that is better than my own mealy mouthed MP who declared his support of shooting and the shooting estates. He is local to the XXXXX XXXXX that escaped justice. I am awaiting an answer from my MP regarding this failed case.

    The battle continues.


    • 2 Northern Diver
      April 19, 2018 at 2:01 pm

      I had an MP like that – but guess what – he lost his seat at the last election. The replacement is not a pro-shoot guy. So perhaps there is some hope?

  2. April 19, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    as an encouragement to John Swinney…you can bet your life that the people who repeatedly vote John Swinney in, are not the ones doing the raptor killing!

  3. 4 John Keith
    April 19, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    One of the members of the group”Save the free beavers of the Tay” approached John Swinney to ask him to help to stop the persecution (shooting) of Beavers in Strathmore. The response was two words the second being ‘off’.

    This is how the interaction was reported, although there may be an element of paraphrasing.

  4. 5 J .Coogan
    April 19, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    John Swinney is a good MSP and more importantly a good man . As a constituent of his I have written to him on various occasions regarding wildlife crime issues , I have always received prompt and polite replies. And I know he has passed on concerns to the Environment Secretary on my behalf. The replies however always follow the usual line – taking wildlife crime seriously etc etc .
    I have in the past been critical of the SNP ,their land reform back tracking infuriates me .I am also puzzled by the way they cosy up to landed Estates and don’t get me started on Fergus Ewing ! But they are in a very difficult place , without getting to political they have to make many decisions with one hand tied behind their backs and of course they have to tread on eggshells or the obscenely bias right wing media attack them on a united front.
    Yes we have to pile on the pressure but we also have to ask ourselves who would make a better job ? Labour are totally ineffectual at present, the Greens well yes and they exert as much pressure as they can , the nasty party ? I think not.
    So yes we must write, pressurise, lobby , all of these things but I think with a bit of understanding that many in the Scottish Parliament are good people ( a rare commodity in present day British politics) who would like to do more but at this juncture cannot ,hopefully this situation will change in the very near future.

  5. April 19, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    John Swinney MSP has responded on Twitter. See update at foot of blog.

  6. 7 Harry Bickerstaff
    April 19, 2018 at 6:44 pm

    Please don’t make the mistake of blaming ANY Scottish MSP for the carnage amongst our raptors. Blame the people we all know who are doing it. Let’s not fight with our friends. How many of these thugs will be delighted to read us bad-mouthing the only people who can realistically put a stop to this.
    It might sound daft, but the Scottish Parliament have to go through due process (see Roseanna Cunningham’s previous comments) as the thugs (can’t think of another name) will use their money and influence to make sure they can get away with their slaughtering for as long as possible. Look at them: none of them are saying they need to change their ways – they will need to be forced into that and that will be by the hardest method of all: proving who did the killing. If it was easy, we would have had the solution we want, long ago.

  7. April 19, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    When proof have you got it was grouse moor managers? One bird goes missing and you jump on one group of people with not proof. What affect does putting all that electronics on the bird have on his flight? Birds have already been found died after fighting and it has been put down to the bird not being able to fly and keep up with non-tagged birds. My advice is work with the Keepers of the moor not against them you will get on a lot better.

    • 9 Dougoutcanoe
      April 20, 2018 at 12:10 am

      Gamekeepers are beyond reasoning with, because they know best and we conservationists, birders, etc haven’t a clue. According to gamekeepers.

      A very large bird if deceased from natural causes, including fighting? would be relatively easy to find. GPS is very accurate.

      The tiny weight of a tag is no hinderance to a large eagle that can easily a kg or more of prey.

      I wouldn’t trust a gamekeeper where no raptors live and breed.

    • 10 J .Coogan
      April 20, 2018 at 8:19 am

      My advice is don’t type after a few snifters old boy.

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