Archive for the 'Our satellite tagged golden eagles' Category

29
Jun
18

Species Champion Andy Wightman visits golden eagle satellite-tagging team

Earlier this year Scottish Greens MSP Andy Wightman took on the role of Golden Eagle Species Champion.

Species Champions are members of the Scottish Parliament who have agreed to lend their political support to the protection of Scottish wildlife, in an award-winning scheme organised by Scottish Environment LINK.

[Photo: Ruth Tingay]

As a long-time reader and supporter of this blog, Andy shares our concerns about the on-going threat to golden eagles from illegal persecution in some areas of Scotland. He’s also well aware of the compelling evidence published in the Scottish Government-commissioned review of the fate of satellite-tagged golden eagles, which demonstrated that almost one-third (n = 41) of sat-tagged eagles in Scotland have ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances, most of them on or close to intensively managed driven grouse moors.

As many of you will know, last year in partnership with Chris Packham we satellite-tagged a shedload of golden eagles as part of a wider collaborative scientific study on the dispersal and land-use of juvenile golden eagles, to help inform conservation planning for this species. One of those eagles, Fred, ‘disappeared’ from the Pentlands in January this year in the same highly suspicious circumstances as the other 41 ‘missing’ eagles (and this grim tally has since increased following the recent suspicious disappearance of golden and white-tailed eagles on grouse moors in the Monadhliaths (here), the Cairngorms National Park (here), and the Strathbraan area of Perthshire (here)).

This year we’ve satellite-tagged more eagles (another shedload) and Andy joined a team of expert licensed fieldworkers from the Scottish Raptor Study Group, who, with support from local landowners, have been visiting nest sites across Scotland.

We anticipate releasing a short film and an interview with Andy in due course.

Meanwhile, here’s one of this year’s satellite-tagged golden eagles. This is ‘Adam’, named by Andy in tribute to Dr Adam Watson, an influential character during Andy’s formative years on the hill!

[Photo: Ruth Tingay]

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27
Mar
18

SGA reacts angrily to media coverage of Golden Eagle Fred

Last Friday we published an update on golden eagle Fred, who ‘disappeared’ from the Pentlands on the outskirts of Edinburgh in highly suspicious circumstances in January.

There have been some predictable responses from certain quarters who probably expect everyone to believe that this is what happened to Fred (many thanks to @gill_lewis for this brilliant cartoon):

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association’s response to the latest news on Fred was this:

Hmm, where to begin. Let’s start with some facts, a concept the SGA seems to struggle with.

First of all, on the accusation that our media coverage has been “shambolic” and that this case has made a “total mockery” of the investigative process for dealing with wildlife crime. Let’s just be clear. We haven’t published any details of this investigation without the express agreement of Police Scotland.

In the SGA’s original press statement on Fred (see here), we were accused of “walking away after presenting judgement to the media“. We didn’t “walk away” at all – we presented further evidence to the police and were asked not to publish it until the police’s special technical analysts had been given an opportunity to examine it. Although we were obviously eager to publish as soon as possible, we fully adhered to the police request as not to do so could have compromised their investigation. There is still information that has not yet been released.

In the meantime, SGA Director Bert Burnett was busily writing outrageous and borderline libellous commentary on social media. He wrote the following on 22 February 2018:

Which leads us on nicely to another statement in the SGA’s latest press statement:

The SGA has not joined in with theorising on blogs or private social media accounts“.

Really? So how does the SGA explain the following social media posts?

Posted 19th February 2018:

Posted 23rd February 2018:

That seems to be pretty conclusive evidence that the SGA, via its Director, has been quite busy “theorising” about this case, doesn’t it? And not only “theorising”, but also trying to whip up unfounded hysteria by accusing Chris Packham of ‘calling for the wives and children of gamekeepers to become homeless’ and Bert then, ironically, calling for people to lobby the BBC to sack Chris!

Ah, but he’s no longer a Director‘ will argue the SGA. That bit, at least, is true – according to documents lodged at Companies House, Bert resigned his Directorship of the SGA on 26th February 2018. However, his social media comments were published prior to the 26th, when he was still an SGA Director. Perhaps this explains Bert’s ‘resignation’? Whatever, who cares.

So after falsely accusing us of commenting inappropriately on a live investigation, the SGA then argues that “…all the evidence in this case should be presented in the open so the truth can be established…”. A good bit of muddled thinking there.

For us, the most revealing section of the SGA’s press statement is this:

The fact that SNH published a paper on satellite tagged eagles between 2004-2016 has nothing to do with any case happening years later, in 2018.

To suggest otherwise is to institutionalise prejudice against a community of people: Scotland’s gamekeepers. We will not tolerate this and are extremely disappointed and angry that this attitude appears to be at large within some sections of our parliament“.

Sorry, SGA, but the 2017 review on the fate of satellite-tagged golden eagles has EVERYTHING to do with this case. The circumstances of Fred’s disappearance mirror the suspicious circumstances of the other 42+ ‘missing’ golden eagles who have ‘disappeared’ on or near to a grouse moor and whose tags suddenly and inexplicably stopped working despite having a proven reliability rate of 98%. The report demonstrated that tagged golden eagles in Scotland were 25 TIMES more likely to ‘disappear’ in suspicious circumstances than anywhere else in the world where these tags have been deployed on eagles.

It’s no use the SGA now pulling out the victim card and falsely claiming “institutional prejudice”. The facts are clear and have been available for a long, long time to those willing to see.

What’s really interesting is that the SGA’s angry response came just hours after Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing’s damning condemnation of the criminals within the grouse-shooting sector who continue to kill birds of prey, including golden eagles. We suspect the SGA’s furious reaction about Fred is more to do with the embarrassing fact that Fergus, the SGA’s long-time cheerleader and main political ally, has spoken so openly and frankly about the ongoing persecution of raptors on grouse moors. The significance of Fergus Ewing’s statement should not be underestimated.

The walls are crumbling and the SGA knows it. It’s just a matter of time…..

23
Mar
18

New information reveals more about Golden Eagle Fred’s suspicious disappearance

RPUK/Chris Packham press release:

NEW INFORMATION REVEALS MORE ABOUT GOLDEN EAGLE FRED’S SUSPICIOUS DISAPPEARANCE

On 21st January, a GPS satellite tag fitted to a young golden eagle called Fred suddenly and inexplicably stopped sending data close to a grouse moor in the Pentland Hills on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Up until that point the tag had been working perfectly and was providing accurate and frequent location information about Fred’s travels.

Photo of Fred by Ruth Tingay:

Strangely, three and half days later, the tag began to transmit again for a short period, but astonishingly, it was in the North Sea, 15 miles offshore from St Andrews. No further GPS data have been received.

Map showing Fred’s movements in the Pentland Hills and the last known position of his tag in the North Sea:

The researchers who had been tracking Fred’s movements (Dr Ruth Tingay of Raptor Persecution UK and broadcaster and campaigner Chris Packham) alerted experts at RSPB Scotland who immediately notified Police Scotland who began an investigation into Fred’s suspicious disappearance.

The analysis of new technical data, provided by the tag manufacturer, has now shed some light on the approximate location of Fred’s tag during those three and a half days of lost GPS transmissions.

Although the tag’s GPS transmissions were suppressed, the tag’s technical data, which includes time & date, shows that the tag was still functioning and was periodically communicating briefly with a series of mobile phone masts closest to the tag’s then location. These data, that gave locational information for the phone masts, suggest that in the days after Fred’s disappearance his tag moved eastwards away from the Pentlands, along a route similar to that of the Edinburgh City Bypass and subsequently the A1 towards Haddington, before it travelled to the North Berwick area on the East Lothian coast. From there, it is likely that the tag went into the sea as the data then show that the tag began to connect with phone masts along the Fife coast, across the Firth of Forth. Later, the tag was then able, briefly, to resume giving locational GPS transmissions, but by then it was well offshore.

Map showing the phone masts (red dots) with which Fred’s tag was communicating between 21-25 January 2018. The green dot shows the final known GPS position of the tag on 25th Jan. (Map: RPUK)

Dr Tingay said:That someone might have been travelling around the Edinburgh City Bypass with a dead golden eagle in the boot of a vehicle is sickening.

These new tags we’re using to track golden eagles like Fred offer a highly sophisticated technical opportunity, not just to learn about the eagles’ movements when they’re alive but also, it seems, an insight in to the lengths someone will go to try and remove evidence to cover their crime”.

Chris Packham said:We don’t know whether this tag was still attached to Fred as it travelled across East Lothian and in to the North Sea but we do know that the tag’s movements are a clear indication of foul play.

Whether it was an amateurish attempt to mask the illegal killing of Fred in the Pentlands by dumping the tag, and possibly Fred, in the North Sea to make it look like he had drowned, we’ll never know. We do know that, once again, we’ve lost a young golden eagle in the vicinity of a grouse moor and nobody will be held to account.

The Scottish Government needs to do more, immediately, to protect Scotland’s birds of prey. It’s crystal clear that raptors continue to be killed and the criminals responsible think they are untouchable”.

Ian Thomson, Head of Investigations at RSPB Scotland said:This new information makes the probability of Fred’s death being a wildlife crime even more likely.

The continued denials of any suspicion around the case, and attempts at coming up with elaborate alternative versions of events, have been identical to those in virtually every other case where a satellite-tagged raptor has disappeared.

It is a great shame that some representatives of the gamebird shooting industry, who profess to be “true conservationists” and “guardians of the countryside”, are the same individuals who seek more to shoot the messenger than to face up to and marginalise the criminals who exist in plain sight in their community.

Lothian MSP Andy Wightman said:The evidence uncovered from Fred’s satellite tag is sufficient to convince me that he died in suspicious circumstances. Further details may never be known but it is beyond contempt that protected species such as Golden Eagles continue to be persecuted across Scotland.

I urge all those who use the Pentlands Regional Park on a regular basis to remain vigilant and am extremely grateful to Dr Ruth Tingay and Police Scotland for their diligence and perseverance in a very difficult case.

Last year a Scottish Government-commissioned report showed that 41 of 131 satellite-tagged golden eagles had disappeared (presumed dead) in suspicious circumstances in Scotland, predominantly on or near to some driven grouse moors. In response to that report’s findings, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, ordered a review of grouse moor management practices with a view to introducing a licensing scheme for game-shooting estates.

Anyone with information about Fred’s disappearance is urged to contact Police Scotland on 101, or the RSPB’s confidential raptor crime hotline 0300 999 0101.

ENDS

We’ve produced a video about the location of Fred’s tag between 21-25 January:

The new information we’ve been able to retrieve from the tag (as discussed by Chris Packham in the video) deserves a little bit more explanation.

It’s important to understand that the new data do NOT provide detailed GPS locations of the tag – i.e. the new information only tells us which nearby phone mast the tag was communicating with, it does NOT tell us the exact position of the tag when it was ‘talking’ to the phone masts, as the tag’s GPS function was disabled (more on this below).

Nevertheless, the position of the phone masts and the times/dates the tag was communicating with them does show a very clear direction of travel from the Pentlands and out in to the North Sea. For investigative reasons, we are not yet revealing the times/dates those phone masts were ‘pinged’.

The disabling of the tag’s GPS function is interesting. It is surprisingly easy to suppress the tag’s GPS signal. For obvious reasons, we have no intention of providing a description of how to do that, but needless to say you don’t need a Faraday cage or indeed any specialist equipment to block the signal of this particular tag type.

That begs the question, was Fred’s tag deliberately disabled to hide the GPS data transmissions? Let’s assume for a minute that it was. Whoever did that, was smart enough to know how to suppress the GPS signal but not smart enough to know that the tag would still be trying to communicate with the nearest phone mast. Schoolboy error.

An alternative explanation is that the tag was not deliberately disabled at all. Whoever took that tag (and perhaps Fred’s corpse) from the Pentlands might just have been banking on the idea that the tag only sends data at set periods of time inbetween battery-charging periods (as with the Hen Harrier satellite tags), and so they may have thought they could get it to the coast and in to the sea without anybody who was monitoring the tag’s data knowing that something was wrong. They may have decided to dump the tag (and possibly Fred) in to the sea to make it look as though he flew out there of his own accord and simply drowned. Again, schoolboy error. We are not using the same type of tag as those used on Hen Harriers.

We know from reading various, frankly laughable, theories posted on social media over the last few weeks that the majority of commentators have no clue/understanding of (a) the type of tag we are using, (b) the tag’s capabilities, and (c) the high frequency rate that the tag was transmitting data, throughout every day and night.

We’ve released this new information about the route Fred’s tag took from the Pentland Hills to the North Sea in the hope that someone will come forward to help progress the police investigation into Fred’s highly suspicious disappearance. If you know anything, please contact Police Scotland on 101 or the RSPB’s confidential raptor crime hotline 0300 999 0101.

We’d like to put on record our immense gratitude to the two Police Wildlife Crime Officers who have been leading this case. They have gone way above and beyond what we expected them to do (and again, we are not detailing the specifics of their investigation) and they have impressed us with their diligence and professionalism. Many thanks to them for their efforts to date.

We are also grateful to the tag manufacturer and particularly the senior engineers for providing the additional technical data from Fred’s tag and helping us and the police with the analysis.

10
Mar
18

Police acknowledge golden eagle Fred’s disappearance is highly suspicious

Two weeks ago we blogged about a motion raised by Edinburgh Councillor Chas Booth (Scottish Greens) calling on Edinburgh City Council to take action in response to the highly suspicious disapearance of golden eagle Fred in the Pentland Hills (see here).

Last week we blogged about an attempt by Tim (Kim) Baynes, Director of the Scottish Moorland Group (part of Scottish Land & Estates) to downplay the suspicious circumstances of Fred’s disappearance and to derail Cllr Booth’s motion (see here).

Cllr Booth’s motion was due to be heard by Edinburgh City Council’s Transport & Environment Committee on 1st March 2018 but the meeting was postponed due to the snow.

The meeting was rescheduled and took place yesterday.

Prior to the meeting, Tim (Kim) Baynes sent another letter to the Committee, again attempting to derail the motion, as follows:

This letter, implying (incorrectly) that there is no evidence of criminal activity in relation to Fred’s disappearance, prompted Conservative councillor Nick Cook to call for ‘no action’ on the motion.

However, Cllr Booth sent around an email he’d received from Police Scotland that said they were “happy with the wording” of his motion (i.e. that Fred’s disappearance was indeed highly suspicious) and Cllr Booth argued that the opinion of Police Scotland held far greater weight than the opinion of Scottish Land & Estates.

Cllr Booth further argued that rather than delaying the motion until the police investigation had ended, the timing of the motion was even more pertinent now, in that one of the motion’s statements included referring the matter to the Pentland Hills Regional Park Joint Committee, to ask them to consider writing to landowners in the region highlighting this incident and encouraging them to report any suspicious activity to Police Scotland or the RSPB.

The Committee voted on the motion and despite three Conservative councillors voting against it, the motion was carried by 8 votes to 3.

Well done and thank you, Cllr Chas Booth.

Here’s the motion that was carried:

Green Motion – Suspicious disappearance of ‘Fred’ the Golden Eagle in Pentland Hills

Committee:

  1. Notes with grave concern reports of the suspicious disappearance of ‘Fred’ the Golden Eagle, who hatched from a nest in the Scottish Borders to the only breeding pair of Golden Eagles in the region, and who, according to his satellite tag, was in woodland near Currie in January 2018, within the Edinburgh Council boundary;
  2.  Notes that Fred’s satellite tracker is reported to have suddenly and inexplicably stopped transmitting on 21 January 2018, and then to have mysteriously started transmitting again on 24 January 2018, with a GPS location some 15 miles offshore of St Andrews, Fife.
  3. Further notes that RSPB Scotland and Raptor Persecution UK regard Fred’s disappearance as highly suspicious and believe it is likely that he has been illegally killed;
  4. Notes that the Golden Eagle is a magnificent and majestic bird and one of the largest birds of prey in the British Isles, notes that it is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, but notes that nonetheless it has been illegally killed and persecuted in the past;
  5. Notes that a Scottish Government-commissioned study in 2017 found that 41 of 131 satellite-tagged Golden Eagles had disappeared in suspicious circumstances, most of them at or near to managed grouse moors;
  6. Notes that the Scottish Government have established a working group with a view to establishing a licensing regime for game-shooting estates;
  7. Agrees that the suspicious disappearance of Fred is deeply regrettable, and urges anyone with any knowledge of this incident, or any other incidents of possible wildlife crime, to contact Police Scotland on 101 or alternatively call the RSPB’s new confidential raptor crime hotline on 0300 999 0101;
  8. Agrees that the Council Leader will write to the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment expressing the council’s grave concern at this incident, asking her to outline a timetable for the introduction of the licensing of game-shooting estates; offering the council’s cooperation with any such licensing regime, and offering the council’s support for consideration of stiffer penalties for wildlife crime;
  9. Agrees to refer the matter to the Pentland Hills Regional Park Joint Committee, to ask them to consider writing to landowners in the region highlighting this incident and encouraging them to report any suspicious activity to Police Scotland or the RSPB.

Moved by Cllr Chas Booth, Seconded by Cllr Steve Burgess (Scottish Greens).

04
Mar
18

Fred the golden eagle: police investigation still very much ongoing

The criminals within the game-shooting industry are deeply concerned about what might be revealed by the police investigation in to the highly suspicious disappearance of our satellite-tagged golden eagle Fred.

The following was posted on the BASC facebook page today and has since been doing the rounds on social media, accompanied by various defamatory accusations that we (RPUK, Chris Packham, and Ian Thomson from RSPB) are all “compulsive liars”:

FOR THE AVOIDANCE OF ANY DOUBT, THE POLICE INVESTIGATION IS STILL ONGOING.

The police have been given the new data we were able to retrieve from Fred’s tag, which very much support our earlier suspicion that Fred was a victim of illegal persecution.

Rest assured, we WILL be publishing these data in due course.

For now, we have to let the police do their job.

But thanks, game-shooting criminals, for keeping Fred’s highly suspicious disappearance in the news. Much appreciated.

01
Mar
18

Scottish Moorland Group Director in desperate bid to downplay suspicious disappearance of golden eagle Fred

Last week we blogged about a motion being put forward to Edinburgh City Council’s Transport & Environment Committee by Scottish Greens Councillor Chas Booth, calling for action after the highly suspicious disappearance of golden eagle Fred in the Pentland Hills (see here).

To recap, here is the text of that motion:

1 March 2018

Green Motion – Suspicious disappearance of ‘Fred’ the Golden Eagle in Pentland Hills

Committee:

  1. Notes with grave concern reports of the suspicious disappearance of ‘Fred’ the Golden Eagle, who hatched from a nest in the Scottish Borders to the only breeding pair of Golden Eagles in the region, and who, according to his satellite tag, was in woodland near Currie in January 2018, within the Edinburgh Council boundary;
  2.  Notes that Fred’s satellite tracker is reported to have suddenly and inexplicably stopped transmitting on 21 January 2018, and then to have mysteriously started transmitting again on 24 January 2018, with a GPS location some 15 miles offshore of St Andrews, Fife.
  3. Further notes that RSPB Scotland and Raptor Persecution UK regard Fred’s disappearance as highly suspicious and believe it is likely that he has been illegally killed;
  4. Notes that the Golden Eagle is a magnificent and majestic bird and one of the largest birds of prey in the British Isles, notes that it is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, but notes that nonetheless it has been illegally killed and persecuted in the past;
  5. Notes that a Scottish Government-commissioned study in 2017 found that 41 of 131 satellite-tagged Golden Eagles had disappeared in suspicious circumstances, most of them at or near to managed grouse moors;
  6. Notes that the Scottish Government have established a working group with a view to establishing a licensing regime for game-shooting estates;
  7. Agrees that the suspicious disappearance of Fred is deeply regrettable, and urges anyone with any knowledge of this incident, or any other incidents of possible wildlife crime, to contact Police Scotland on 101 or alternatively call the RSPB’s new confidential raptor crime hotline on 0300 999 0101;
  8. Agrees that the Council Leader will write to the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment expressing the council’s grave concern at this incident, asking her to outline a timetable for the introduction of the licensing of game-shooting estates; offering the council’s cooperation with any such licensing regime, and offering the council’s support for consideration of stiffer penalties for wildlife crime;
  9. Agrees to refer the matter to the Pentland Hills Regional Park Joint Committee, to ask them to consider writing to landowners in the region highlighting this incident and encouraging them to report any suspicious activity to Police Scotland or the RSPB.

Moved by            Cllr Chas Booth

ENDS

In response to this motion, the Director of the Scottish Moorland Group (a sub-group of Scottish Land & Estates) Tim (Kim) Baynes has written to the Committee to offer some ‘advice’, as follows:

As we’ve come to expect from Tim (Kim), it reeks of desperation and is light on facts. Let’s just examine some of his ‘advice’.

Tim (Kim) is “concerned” by the use of the word ‘suspicious’ and ‘highly suspicious’. Eh? How else would you define the sudden and inexplicable loss of GPS location data when Fred was in an area managed for driven grouse shooting, an activity that has a long and proven association with the illegal persecution of eagles and other raptor species, and then the weird re-awakening of the tag some 10-15 miles offshore in the North Sea?!

Does Tim (Kim) think this is normal? How many of the 141 satellite-tagged golden eagles (2004-2016) behaved in this way? Shall we have a look?

According to over half a million recorded locations, as analysed for the Golden Eagle Satellite Tag Review, it would seem that none of them followed this pattern of behaviour, as this map from the Review clearly shows:

[The half a million + locations are summarised here in 4km sq, with red dots showing low density and green dots showing high density. The black stars indicate the last known fixes of all satellite-tagged eagles as of 15 January 2016, including those still transmitting].

To suggest that the behaviour of Fred’s tag is anything other than suspicious is plainly absurd. Indeed, Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham agrees with us. Quoted during her interview about Fred with Chris Packham a few weeks ago she said:

As far as we’re currently aware it’s [Fred’s disappearance] unexplained circumstances but they do come under the category of suspicious“.

Tim (Kim) also states, “There is no evidence that Fred has been killed and the full circumstances do not substantiate that theory“.

On the contrary, Tim (Kim) is not privy to the full circumstances of Fred’s suspicious disappearance and he has no idea what evidence has been provided to Police Scotland’s investigation. Indeed, we have commented previously that since Fred’s disappearance, we have been able to access further information from his tag and this information only serves to corroborate our earlier suspicion that Fred was the victim of illegal persecution. Unfortunately at this stage of the police investigation we’re unable to publish that new information but we fully intend to do so in due course and it will leave little (no) doubt about the highly suspicious circumstances of Fred’s disappearance.

Tim (Kim) claims, “It is a leap of logic to assume that because eagles have been killed elsewhere in the past that Fred has been killed“. Well, it might be a leap of logic if the circumstances of Fred’s disappearance didn’t match so closely with the circumstances of all those other disappearing eagles, but unfortunately for Tim (Kim), Fred’s disappearance bears all the hallmarks of suspected illegal persecution. i.e. his tag suddenly and inexplicably stopped, with no identified technical malfunction, and he disappeared in an area managed for driven grouse shooting. And again, the Cabinet Secretary, not known for being illogical, agrees:

About a third of the disappeared eagles [whose data were analysed in the Sat Tag Review] were disappearing in the sort of circumstances we’re talking about with Fred: unexplained, suspicious, and sadly there were clear clusters and those clusters tended to be around driven grouse shoots

and

It’s [Fred’s disappearance] an unfortunate addition to the statistics that we already have of the numbers of unexplained disappearances of tagged eagles“.

Tim (Kim) continues, “It is important to clarify that the Pentlands has very little grouse moor management due to comprehensive public access and no tagged Golden Eagles have previously disappeared in the Pentlands“.

So what if there is “very little” grouse moor management there? The point is, there is some driven grouse moor management there, which according to local sources has intensified in the last year, and that grouse moor just happens to be in very close proximity to Fred’s last known GPS location in the Pentlands. That’s not an attempt on our part to apportion blame, but is simply pointing out an indisputable fact.

Tim (Kim) is correct to say that “no tagged golden eagles have previously disappeared in the Pentlands” but that shouldn’t be misconstrued as an indication that tagged eagles have previously been left unmolested there. You only have to look at the red map above to see that no tagged golden eagles have previously been recorded in the Pentlands! Fred was the first to visit and he disappeared within a couple of days of being there.

One final point. Tim (Kim) implies that we, as a “private organisation” have somehow caused “potential problems” with the police investigation in to Fred’s suspicious disappearance. We’re not sure what he’s getting at here but if he has any evidence of this he should be explicit. Put up or shut up, Tim (Kim).

As far as we’re aware, Police Scotland has appreciated the assistance and information we’ve been able to provide to help with the ongoing police investigation, just as we appreciate the effort and diligence of the Police Wildlife Crime Officer leading this case.

UPDATE 11.45hrs: Today’s planned Edinburgh City Council Transport & Environment Committee meeting has been postponed due to the bad weather. We’ll report as soon as we find out the re-scheduled date.

26
Feb
18

Edinburgh Council called to action following suspicious disappearance of golden eagle Fred

Press release from Edinburgh Green Party:

Edinburgh Green councillors have called on the City Council to take action following the suspicious disappearance of Fred the Golden Eagle from the Pentlands in January. The council’s environment committee will consider a motion on Thursday 1 March from Green councillor Chas Booth to raise the issue with the Scottish Government. The motion also urges the Pentland Hills Regional Park to write to landowners in the area urging them to report suspicious activity to the police.

Chas Booth, Green councillor for Leith, and a member of the council’s environment committee, said,

I was walking with my family just a few fields away from Fred’s last GPS location near Currie the day before his disappearance was made public. It is heart-breaking to think that, had it not been for his suspicious disappearance, my children might have witnessed this spectacular bird soaring over the Pentlands. And it appears no other Edinburgh resident will witness that amazing sight either, at least in the short term.

So I would encourage anyone who has any knowledge of the disappearance of this magnificent bird to contact Police Scotland on 101 or the RSPB raptor persecution hotline on on 0300 999 0101, to ensure that, if a wildlife crime has indeed happened in this case, that those responsible can be brought to justice.

And I hope the council will approve my motion on Thursday, to send a clear message that wildlife crime will not be tolerated in Scotland’s capital. I also urge the Pentlands Hills Regional Park authority to engage with landowners in the area to encourage them to report any suspicious behaviour to police.”

The full text of the motion to be considered by the council’s environment committee is below:

City of Edinburgh Council

Transport and Environment Committee

1 March 2018

Green Motion – Suspicious disappearance of ‘Fred’ the Golden Eagle in Pentland Hills

Committee:

  1. Notes with grave concern reports of the suspicious disappearance of ‘Fred’ the Golden Eagle, who hatched from a nest in the Scottish Borders to the only breeding pair of Golden Eagles in the region, and who, according to his satellite tag, was in woodland near Currie in January 2018, within the Edinburgh Council boundary; 2.
  2.  Notes that Fred’s satellite tracker is reported to have suddenly and inexplicably stopped transmitting on 21 January 2018, and then to have mysteriously started transmitting again on 24 January 2018, with a GPS location some 15 miles offshore of St Andrews, Fife.
  3. Further notes that RSPB Scotland and Raptor Persecution UK regard Fred’s disappearance as highly suspicious and believe it is likely that he has been illegally killed;
  4. Notes that the Golden Eagle is a magnificent and majestic bird and one of the largest birds of prey in the British Isles, notes that it is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, but notes that nonetheless it has been illegally killed and persecuted in the past;
  5. Notes that a Scottish Government-commissioned study in 2017 found that 41 of 131 satellite-tagged Golden Eagles had disappeared in suspicious circumstances, most of them at or near to managed grouse moors;
  6. Notes that the Scottish Government have established a working group with a view to establishing a licensing regime for game-shooting estates;
  7. Agrees that the suspicious disappearance of Fred is deeply regrettable, and urges anyone with any knowledge of this incident, or any other incidents of possible wildlife crime, to contact Police Scotland on 101 or alternatively call the RSPB’s new confidential raptor crime hotline on 0300 999 0101;
  8. Agrees that the Council Leader will write to the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment expressing the council’s grave concern at this incident, asking her to outline a timetable for the introduction of the licensing of game-shooting estates; offering the council’s cooperation with any such licensing regime, and offering the council’s support for consideration of stiffer penalties for wildlife crime;
  9. Agrees to refer the matter to the Pentland Hills Regional Park Joint Committee, to ask them to consider writing to landowners in the region highlighting this incident and encouraging them to report any suspicious activity to Police Scotland or the RSPB.

Moved by            Cllr Chas Booth

ENDS

[Photo of Fred by Ruth Tingay]




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