Posts Tagged ‘white-tailed eagle

01
Nov
18

Proposal to reintroduce white-tailed eagles to Isle of Wight

From the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation:

White-tailed Eagles were once widespread along the whole of the South Coast of England, from Cornwall to Kent, before being driven to extinction by relentless persecution that began in the Middle Ages. The last pair bred on Culver Cliff on the Isle of Wight in 1780. Many parts of southern England remain highly suitable for the species, and following the reintroduction of White-tailed Eagles to Scotland – where there are now over 130 breeding pairs – we believe that an English reintroduction would be equally successful and the best way to re-establish these magnificent birds in their former haunts. Restoring a population of White-Eagles on the South Coast would help to link populations in Scotland and Ireland with those in the Netherlands and France.

[White-tailed eagle by Ronnie Gilbert]

Together with the Forestry Commission we have identified the Isle of Wight as a potential location for a reintroduction, and are currently working on a feasibility report. It is the last known breeding site of the species in southern England, the Solent and surrounding estuaries will provide a rich food supply, there are numerous potential nesting sites in woods and cliffs, and also good loafing areas for young birds. It is also a highly strategic location that would enable the birds to spread east and west along the South Coast.

Evidence from the Netherlands, where there is a small but growing population of White-tailed Eagles, shows that the species will readily nest in densely populated areas, close to people. The species has a broad diet and tends to favour the most seasonally abundant prey: waterbirds are important, including in summer the young of Greylag and other geese as well as Coot; fish are taken when available as well as carrion such as dead and dying birds and fish. Dutch researchers studying White-tailed Eagles have found that any disturbance to wading birds by the eagles is similar to that of Peregrine, and species get used to their presence; while breeding colonies of gulls and terns are effective at mobbing and driving off the eagles.

In addition to the conservation benefits, we believe that the project would give a significant boost to the Isle of Wight economy, including in winter. In Scotland eagle tourism is extremely popular and recent reports have shown White-tailed Eagles generate up to £5 million to the economy of the Isle of Mull each year, and £2.4 million to the Isle of Skye.

The proposed project is a partnership between the Forestry Commission and Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation, with potential for other local partners to join.

If the project was to go ahead juvenile White-tailed Eagles would be collected from nests in Scotland and translocated to the Isle of Wight in late June. They would be held in special cages in a quiet location for approximately three-four weeks before being released. Food would be provided close to the release site during the autumn and winter before the young eagles become independent. Up to 60 birds would be translocated in this way over a five year period. The project requires a special licence from Scottish Natural Heritage to collect eagle chicks from Scottish nests, and permission from Natural England to release them on the Isle of Wight.

Young White-tailed Eagles do not breed until they are four or five years of age. It is hoped that a small population would become established on the Isle of Wight, with birds spreading east and west along the South Coast thereafter.

We are keen to consult with the local community, landowners and other stakeholders to encourage support and involvement with the project, and to identify and resolve any concerns.

Three drop-in sessions will be held at three locations across the Isle of Wight to enable members of the public to learn more about the proposed project. These will be held as follows:

  • Monday 12th November: 6-8pm, YMCA Winchester House, Shanklin
  • Tuesday 13th November: 11am – 1pm, 5th Ryde Scout Group Hall, Ryde
  • Tuesday 13th November: 6-8pm, Cowes Yacht Haven, Cowes

You can arrive at any time during the drop-in sessions, and the project team will be present to answer questions and to discuss the proposals. You can also provide feedback on the proposals via our online questionnaire.

For further information about the proposals check out our Frequently Asked Questions page.

ENDS

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17
May
18

New podcast: the illegal persecution of satellite-tagged eagles in Scotland

An excellent new podcast is now available on the illegal persecution of satellite-tagged eagles in Scotland.

Charlie Moores (a producer at LUSH) interviews Ian Thomson (RSPB Scotland Head of Investigations) about the suspicious disappearance of satellite-tagged golden eagles and white-tailed eagles in areas intensively managed for driven grouse shooting, and how the raptor killers’ tactics have changed since satellite tags became more commonly used.

Well worth 25 minutes of your time.

Listen to the podcast on the LUSH player HERE

[Ian with Chris Packham holding a picture of satellite-tagged golden eagle Fred who ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances earlier this year, photo by Ruth Tingay]

15
May
18

Missing sea eagle Blue T: statement from Cairngorms National Park Authority

Following last week’s news that a young satellite-tagged sea eagle (Blue T) had ‘disappeared’ on Invercauld Estate, the Cairngorms National Park Authority’s CEO, Grant Moir, has published a statement:

The frustration is evident and it’s clear that a great deal of thought has gone in to this statement, which is a huge improvement on previous CNPA statements about ‘disappearing’ satellite-tagged raptors in the National Park (e.g. see here), but we wanted to pick up on a few things.

The news that SNH will shortly be launching the next phase of its raptor tracker project is great – any technological developments that might provide more detail about the fate of ‘missing’ satellite-tagged raptors will be warmly welcomed by most (but probably not by the criminals within the grouse-shooting industry).

However, Grant seems to think that knowing exactly where and when a tagged bird was killed will “take the ambiguity away from the situation“. It won’t.

As we’ve blogged before, if the tag/raptor is destroyed on an estate that employs multiple gamekeepers, the issue of identifying the individual culprit(s) will remain, especially if all the staff give the standard ‘no comment’ police interview. There will also be the sometimes plausible argument that the raptor had been shot/poisoned on a neighbouring estate and died just over the boundary of the estate under scrutiny. And as we’ve seen in recent years, even with clear video evidence of an individually identifiable gamekeeper killing a raptor, a successful prosecution is highly unlikely because the Crown Office will declare the evidence inadmissible or will claim it’s not in the public interest to proceed.

Sorry, Grant, but the so-called ‘ambiguity’ will remain – although there’s nothing ambiguous about the robust & statistically significant findings of the golden eagle satellite tag review, which demonstrated a clear relationship between suspicious raptor disappearances and land managed for intensive driven grouse shooting in and around the Cairngorms National Park:

One other thing in Grant’s statement that we wanted to pick up on –

Invercauld Estate is part of the East Cairngorms Moorland Partnership and I genuinely do believe that progress has started to be made across a wide range of subjects with the Estates involved……”

Really? What progress is that, then? Any progress on stopping the illegal persecution of raptors?

The East Cairngorms Moorland Partnership was established in December 2015 and comprises six estates working in ‘partnership’ with the CNPA.

The Partnership’s statement of purpose can be read here.

Here are the estates (boundaries sourced from Andy Wightman’s Who Owns Scotland website):

  1. Glenlivet Estate. 2. Glenavon Estate. 3. Mar Lodge Estate (National Trust for Scotland). 4. Invercauld Estate. 5. Mar Estate. 6. Balmoral & Birkhall Estate.

Last October, almost two years after this Partnership was established, we wanted to find out what progress had been achieved. We submitted an FoI to the CNPA asking for copies of all correspondence relating to the East Cairngorms Moorland Partnership since 1 January 2016.

Here’s the reply we received in November 2017:

We have searched our Corporate Drives for the period as above and we hold no information‘.

Impressive amount of progress, eh?

We do know that in February this year the CNPA was advertising for a part-time East Cairngorms Moorland Partnership Officer, on a decent salary of £28,770 – £34,633 pro rata.

Assuming someone has now been employed in this new position, they’ve certainly got their work cut out in delivering the objectives set out in the Cairngorms National Park Management Plan 2017-2022, which includes improving raptor populations in the National Park. Recent peer-reviewed science has revealed that the local hen harrier population has crashed (here) as has the local peregrine population (here).

Oh, and satellite-tagged hen harriers keep going ‘missing’ in highly suspicious circumstances inside the National Park, just like hen harrier Calluna, as do satellite-tagged eagles such as sea eagle Blue T and golden eagle #338.

National Park or National Disgrace?

10
May
18

Satellite-tagged sea eagle ‘disappears’ on Invercauld Estate in Cairngorms National Park

A satellite-tagged white-tailed eagle has ‘disappeared’ on Invercauld Estate in the Cairngorms National Park.

Apparently its last tag signal came from a roost wood close to the River Dee, near to Braemar, on Saturday.

[Map showing Invercauld Estate in the Cairngorms National Park. Estate boundary sourced from Andy Wightman’s Who Owns Scotland website]

There are scant details at the moment, other than an article published on the BBC news website (here) where the reader is told that Invercauld Estate (intensively-managed for driven grouse shooting) is ‘committed to conservation’, and that its gamekeepers were ‘working hard’ to find the missing eagle ‘in case there has been a technical malfunction of the tag and the eagle returns to roost again’.

Interestingly, there hasn’t been any press statement from the RSPB or Police Scotland, so we don’t know whether a police-led search has already taken place or whether any other investigative leads are/were being followed. It looks very much like Invercauld Estate has jumped the gun on this news, issuing its own press release in what appears to be a damage-limitation exercise. If that’s the case, it would be a clear breach of the Partnership for Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland media protocol.

Funnily enough, a similar thing happened a couple of weeks ago following the suspicious disappearance of another sat-tagged sea eagle (Blue X) in the Strathbraan area of Perthshire, when the Scottish Gamekeepers Association published a press statement while the police search was still underway – again, a clear breach of the PAW Scotland protocol.

What the estate / BBC article didn’t mention was how the disappearance of this latest satellite-tagged eagle fits the pattern of 45+ other cases where satellite-tagged eagles have disappeared in suspicious circumstances on or close to a driven grouse moor, and in areas where other raptor persecution incidents have been recorded, as reported in the Scottish Goverment’s Golden Eagle Satellite Tag Review published last year:

We’ve blogged about Invercauld Estate and the wider area of Deeside many times before –

There was the discovery of an illegally shot peregrine at the Pass of Ballater in 2011, the reported coordinated hunt and subsequent shooting of an adult hen harrier at Glen Gairn on the border of Invercauld and Dinnet Estates in 2013, and then there were the illegally-set traps that were found nr Geallaig Hill on Invercauld Estate in 2016, which resulted in ‘secret action‘ being taken against a gamekeeper but no prosecution followed, and nor has SNH imposed a General Licence restriction for this incident (and SNH has refused to discuss its decision saying ‘it’s not in the public interest‘ to tell us). Last year satellite-tagged hen harrier ‘Calluna’ disappeared in suspicious circumstances on a grouse moor in this area (here), although it’s not clear whether this was on Invercauld Estate or neighbouring Dinnet Estate.

This part of the Cairngorms National Park is identified as a wildlife crime hotspot, but not to worry, the Scottish Government has it in hand. It recently launched a pilot scheme deploying five police special constables (i.e. part-time volunteers) in the Cairngorms National Park, tasked with addressing wildlife crime (see here). What a joke.

Illegal raptor persecution is out of control and the Scottish Government needs to act, now. No more procrastination, no more excuses, no more chances.

We’ll be blogging more about the missing white-tailed eagle later today when more details become available.

UPDATE 16.30hrs: RSPB Scotland statement:

UPDATE 12 May 2018: Article in The National: ‘Gamekeepers and RSPB at loggerheads over sea eagle’s disappearance’ (here)

UPDATE 15 May 2018: Missing sea eagle Blue T: statement from Cairngorms National Park Authority (here)

20
Apr
18

SNH issues licence for mass raven cull in 5-year ‘experiment’

To the utter disbelief of conservationists, statutory conservation agency Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has issued a licence authorising the mass killing of ravens in a large area of Perthshire (an area identified as a wildlife crime hotspot where six satellite-tagged eagles have suspiciously disappeared in recent years), as part of a proposed five-year experiment, on the basis of ‘seeing what happens’ to wader populations when ravens are removed.

The licence has been issued to a consortium calling itself the Strathbraan Community Collaboration for Waders (SCCW) which, according to the licence application, ‘represents some of the local land management (farmers, gamekeepers) and private interests in the area who value wading birds for their biodiversity, social and economic value to the area and to Scotland more widely. The application is supported by the Scottish Gamekeepers Association and technical advice and support, notably data gathering and interpretation, is being provided by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT)‘.

[Raven photo by Dieter Schaeffer]

The following has been written by a group of Scottish Raptor Study Group (SRSG) members as a guest blog:

STRATHBRAAN RAVEN LICENCE

The news about the missing white tailed sea eagle disappearing in Glen Quaich on Tuesday 17th April could sadly not have been more timely as Scottish Natural Heritage, (SNH), have issued a licence to several estates in the Strathbraan area in Perthshire, including Glen Quaich Estate, for the killing of 300 ravens in a large scale trial over five years to see if wader productivity and populations can be improved by removing raven predation.

The manner in which the government’s statutory nature conservation agency have conducted themselves has come as a shock and there is grave concern about the mis-application of science, the lack of consultation with key stakeholders, such as the RSPB and SRSG, their choice of estate partners and the lack of transparency, trust and honesty, and even seasoned SNH watchers are aghast.

We have raised our concerns and are unhappy with the response so far and have resorted to writing this blog to make the matters public. Following the “suspicious” disappearance of the white tailed sea eagle and the fact the police are describing this as ‘an illegal act’ we call upon SNH to conduct a review and if the circumstances fulfil what we consider to be the established criteria set out in SNH’s own report then we expect the licence to be withdrawn.

Our concerns focus on three areas, firstly the choice of partners:-

Firstly when selecting a trial area why would you choose an area dominated by driven grouse shooting with a history of illegal raptor persecution? What message does this send out to the many law-abiding estates? Is it that persecution will enable you to ‘cut a deal’ with the statutory nature conservation body? Cynics might suggest this is more about an opportunity to kill ravens in an attempt to protect red grouse stocks and it could also be argued that a licence has been issued to kill one species of bird to enable another bird to be shot for fun.

[Map of proposed cull area in north Perthshire, from the licence application, running from Loch Tay in the west to the A9 in the east]:

Raptor workers over the years have been monitoring the area and can speak with authority on raptor persecution. The Scottish Government’s review of satellite-tagged golden eagles showed that four of these birds have disappeared suspiciously in this area, with a satellite-tagged red kite also disappearing in 2010. In all cases, the tags can be classed as “stopped – no malfunction” as used in the review – ie. highly suspicious.

[Map of north Perthshire showing the last known fixes of five satellite-tagged golden eagles that disappeared in suspicious circumstances. Sea Eagle Blue X also disappeared in Glen Quaich last month]:

In addition, a radio-tagged white-tailed eagle was tracked to this area, but disappeared in January 2012, while a further satellite-tagged white-tailed eagle recently similarly disappeared in Glen Quaich. An illegal clam trap was found in November 2012, while a buzzard was spring-trapped in January 2012. A red kite was found poisoned in January 2015. A raven was poisoned in 2017. In addition, licenced raptor study group members have noted a number of cases of suspicious failure of nesting attempts by hen harrier, red kite and buzzard across the area. They have also recorded a higher than usual turnover of red kites and a loss of breeding pairs at nearby sites. All of which indicates on-going illegal persecution.

Even bearing in mind these detected incidents represent an unknown proportion of actual persecution taking place, this is an area where land management practices have displayed a proven criminal intolerance to protected species, stretching back for many years. All this has been in the public domain so why did SNH press on knowing that their partners in this initiative have such a dubious record, and what level of confidence can we have in their honesty and integrity?

Secondly, science and key questions that remain unanswered:-

  • What monitoring is in place to assess that this cull will not affect the raven population status?
  • How will SNH be able to differentiate from other factors affecting the decline of waders such as other predatory pressures, the loss of suitable habitat and changes in agricultural practices?
  • What criteria will be used to differentiate between breeding and non-breeding birds? This year we have noticed that the breeding season is later than usual.
  • What allowance has been made for the immigration of immature flocks into the proposed licence area?
  • Why has the licensing decision been taken in the absence of the raven population modelling report, as it was commissioned with the sole, or at least the main, purpose of underpinning raven licensing decisions with sounder background information?
  • What is the nature and extent of the independent scrutiny that has been carried out?
  • If any raven roosts are located during the period of the licence, can we be assured that any Schedule 1 non-breeding species and other protected species (possibly also using the same roosts) will not be disturbed?
  • What safe guards are in place to ensure the numbers killed will remain within that permitted?

Thirdly, the lack of engagement

SNH are always keen to trumpet words such as ‘trust’, ‘building relationships’, ‘shared objectives’ ‘working collaboratively’ but we have seen none of this.

  • There has been no communication with SRSG workers who have been active in the proposed licence area and have many years of breeding data on ravens and raptors.
  • We understand that not all landowners/managers within the area of licence have been contacted about this licence, contrary to reassurances provided.
  • This proposed application was developed outside the much lauded ‘Working for Waders’ initiative and we only became aware of this by accident; hardly working together or building trust!
  • Under the Scottish Raptor Monitoring Scheme raven data are submitted to SNH (who is a key partner), yet it seems this information was not included in the licence considerations, (we know this as under the permission sharing protocols raptors workers who collected the information in the first place would have had to have been consulted).

We are deeply suspicious that the lack of engagement was deliberate as SNH knew their proposal was weak and would not stand up to the rigour of an independent scientific review.

We again call upon SNH to withdraw the licence.

ENDS

It’s well known that SNH issues a number of licences every year to cull ravens where they are considered a ‘serious threat’ to livestock (e.g. see here, here) but these are apparently for a limited cull, not related to game management and supposedly based on sound scientific evidence of a perceived local problem.

It’s also well known that gamekeepers have long wanted ravens to be added to the General Licence (e.g. see here, here) because they are seen as a perceived threat to grouse stocks.

It’s also well known that ravens are routinely demonised in the press, including this outrageous piece published by the BBC (see here, and well worth a read to understand the hysteria whipped up around this protected species).

However, this latest licence authorising a multi-year mass culling of ravens over a large area for spurious reasons (and apparently very little, if any, scientific justification) is unprecedented. That it also happens to be a well-known raptor persecution hotspot just adds to the lunancy of this situation.

If you share the concerns of the SRSG members, please consider sending an email to Mike Cantlay, SNH Chair, calling on him to withdraw the licence with immediate effect. Emails to: chair@snh.gov.uk

UPDATE 14.20hrs: Thanks to the blog reader who brought this article to our attention, reporting on the results of a scientific study that dispels many of the myths associated with ravens and wader population declines. And here is the scientific peer-reviewed paper by Amar et al that specifically warns against making predator control licensing decisions without a thorough evaluation of the evidence.

UPDATE 21 April 2018: A quote from SNH Head of Wildlife, Robbie Kernahan:

We understand the concerns over wildlife crime in Strathbraan, but we are also clear that the granting of this licence is wholly unconnected to the issues concerned.

This licence is about a pressing and complex conservation issue. It  is a large-scale collaborative trial which will help improve our understanding of factors affecting key wader species, populations of which are declining at an alarming rate. We are satisfied this licence will not affect the population of ravens overall, and is over a five year period.

The licence places significant responsibility and expectations on all those involved – to be able to show that this approach can work and will help deliver what are essentially shared objectives.

Trust is a key element of this and this presents a great opportunity to develop that trust and relationships with all involved. If it becomes apparent that actions are not being carried out in accordance with the terms of any licence then we will have no hesitation in removing the licence“.

UPDATE 21 April 2018: A quote from RSPB Scotland Head of Species & Land Managament, Duncan Orr-Ewing:

We are extremely concerned about the likely scale on impact of this research licence on the local raven population in the Strathbraan area of Perthshire. We are also very surprised that SNH have issued such a research licence  in the vicinity of Strathbraan, which has an appalling  and well documented track record of illegal persecution of raptors, noting also the very recent “suspicious” disappearance of a satellite tagged white-tailed eagle in this very same area.

We, together with local raptor workers who have been monitoring ravens in the area for decades, could have helped SNH with this background detail to the licence application if we had been consulted.

We will be seeking a high level meeting with SNH shortly to discuss. We will be pressing for the research licence to be revoked on the back of the white-tailed eagle incident, and instead consideration given by SNH to removing the use of the Open General Licence in this area, as is within their powers“.

UPDATE 22 April 2018: Raven cull update and what you can do to help (here)

UPDATE 23 April 2018: Article published in The National (here)

UPDATE 23 April 2018: Article published in The Herald (here)

UPDATE 23 April 2018: RSPB Scotland blog in response to raven cull licence (here)

UPDATE 25 April 2018: OneKind blog in response to raven cull licence (here)

UPDATE 25 April 2018: Chris Packham’s response to raven cull licence (here)

UPDATE 26 April 2018: Is the raven cull licence still active whilst SNH review takes place? (here)

UPDATE 26 April 2018: SNH refuses to say whether raven cull licence has been suspended (here)

UPDATE 27 April 2018: Green MSPs seek urgent meeting with SNH re: raven cull licence (here)

UPDATE 27 April 2018: ‘No justification’ for raven cull licence, says RSPB Scotland Director (here)

UDATE 28 April 2018: Raven cull licence: SGA evasive on benefits to grouse moors (here)

UPDATE 1 May 2018: Strathbraan Community Collaboration for Waders: who’s involved? (here)

UPDATE 4 May 2018: Raven cull: next steps to take as SNH blunders on (here)

UPDATE 7 May 2018: “Let’s have more trials [culls] whether it’s about ravens or other things” says SNH (here)

UPDATE 8 May 2018: Parliamentary questions lodged on raven cull licence (here)

UPDATE 9 May 2018: Alison Johnstone MSP lodges Parliamentary motion on raven cull licence (here)

UPDATE 12 May 2018: Raven cull: please ask your MSP to support this Parliamentary motion (here)

UPDATE 23 May 2018: Raven cull update: scientific advisory committee not being asked to repeal licence (here)

UPDATE 23 May 2018: Raven cull: Parliamentary questions and answers (here)

UPDATE 20 May 2018: Raven cull: latest update (here)

UPDATE 5 June 2018: Legal challenge to raven cull licence: your help needed! (here)

UPDATE 6 June 2018: Raven cull: legal challenge crowdfunder smashes £10k target on day one! (here)

UPDATE 19 June 2018: Raven cull: a few updates (here)

UPDATE 20 June 2018: #Justice4Ravens fundraising merchandise now available (here)

UPDATE 22 June 2018: Preston man receives warning for raven cull death threat (here)

UPDATE 1 July 2018: Last push on #Justice4Ravens crowdfunder (here)

UPDATE 1 July 2018: #Justice4Ravens crowdfunder target smashed! (here)

UPDATE 5 July 2018: #Justice4Ravens: application lodged for judicial review (here)

UPDATE 23 July 2018: Surprise! Gamekeeper in raven cull area declares cull a success (here)

UPDATE 30 July 2018: Raven cull licence: scientific rigour ‘completely inadequate’ says SNH’s scientific advisory committee (here)

UPDATE 30 July 2018: Voluntary suspension of raven cull is meaningless greenwash (here)

UPDATE 7 August 2018: #Justice4Ravens: judicial review update (here)

UPDATE 20 August 2018: Raven cull: application for judicial review withdrawn, for now (here)

20
Apr
18

“It can’t go on” – Mark Ruskell MSP speaks out against illegal raptor persecution

Press release from white-tailed eagle species champion Mark Ruskell MSP (19/4/18), following the recent suspicious disappearance of sea eagle Blue X in grouse moor dominated Glen Quaich, Perthshire:

WILDLIFE CRIME IS HIGHLAND PERTHSHIRE’S SHAME

Green MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife Mark Ruskell has branded Highland Perthshire a wildlife crime hotspot after a further disappearance of a White Tailed Eagle around the Glen Quaich area and called on the Scottish Government to finally act by bringing in a licensing regime for driven grouse shooting estates.

Raptor Persecution UK highlighted Perthshire North, as a hotspot for raptor disappearance. Six satellite-tagged eagles have disappeared in suspicious circumstances in what is a relatively small area. Green MSP Mark Ruskell called on the Scottish Government to face up to Perthshire’s shame and ensure those responsible for eagle disappearances face justice.

The individual eagle who recently vanished was named Blue X and was fledged in NE Fife. In his role as the Parliament’s White Tailed Eagle champion Mr. Ruskell last year visited the nest site where the bird fledged and spoke to volunteers who had spent hundreds of hours guarding the site from wildlife criminals. Mr. Ruskell also sits on the Scottish Parliament’s Environment Committee which last year agreed that a licensing regime for driven grouse moor estates should be put in place.

Mark Ruskell said: “Highland Perthshire is renowned for the beauty of the landscape and phenomenal wildlife, but this latest incident brings shame to the area. It’s quite clear from the satellite tags that these birds are disappearing around driven grouse moors. Some disreputable estates and gamekeepers have a bizarre Victorian attitude that wildlife should be exterminated, despite wildlife tourism bringing millions into the Scottish economy. Driven grouse estates in particular are attempting to deliver unsustainable levels of grouse populations which lead them to cull mountain hares for example.

It can’t go on; the Scottish Government is prevaricating over the setting up of a licensing scheme for driven grouse moor estates that would separate the good from the bad. Wildlife crime is notoriously difficult for the Police to track down and there is a wall of silence in communities, no-one wants to call out the illegal actions.

I’m particularly gutted to see this bird disappear, volunteers had spent months on end guarding its nest site in Fife and I even saw the bird myself from afar last year.

ENDS

Well done, Mark, and thank you.

UPDATE 21 April 2018: Green MSP angers gamekeepers over missing bird of prey (article in The National, here)

19
Apr
18

Why shooting estates should fear eagle disappearances

An interesting and insightful Leader Comment in today’s Scotsman: (whoever wrote this, well done!) –

As the RSPB Scotland points out, the disappearance of a fourth satellite-tracked eagle in a part of Perthshire that’s home to several shooting estates over four years is “highly suspicious”.

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association complains its members are the “first to be accused when any bird of prey goes missing”, but the illegal killing of raptors undoubtedly happens, as a 2016 report on red kites by Scottish Natural Heritage found, and few others have a motivation. Each case is a further challenge to the rule of law that will eventually force parliament to react.

And that could lead to the licensing of shooting estates – with the threat of licences being revoked over killings of birds of prey – or a strict liability offence so that a landowner would be found responsible for the unnatural death of any raptor on their land.

Both are measures that estates would – and should – fear.

The sooner the shooting community realises that the death of a sea eagle represents a greater threat to their business than a live bird, the better the chances will be of protecting these magnificent creatures.




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