Golden eagles breeding success at Scottish Highlands estate - BBC News

Published by BBC.COM

Summary generated on August 15, 2020

    Golden eagles have bred at a "Rewilding" estate in the Scottish Highlands for the first time in 40 years.

    An eagle pair successfully reared the chick at an artificial eyrie on the 10,000-acre Trees for Life Dundreggan estate.

    This positive news came as it emerged that a young tagged gold eagle known as Tom has gone missing in Perthshire.

    Its purpose was to encourage a pair of golden eagles to mate.

    There has been a recorded increase in black grouse, which is an important food source for golden eagles.

    Mr Gilbert said: "I do worry for the safety of the chick. They are renowned for wandering quite far distances. There are several black spots where eagles regularly disappear. Some of them are well within range of a young golden eagle - just 50 km away, and chicks can travel for 100-150km."

    Around 120 miles south, in the Strathbraan area of the Perthshire uplands, the young tagged golden eagle known as Tom has been reported missing.

    Raptor Persecution UK. Four of the eagles that were tagged by Raptor Persecution UK in 2017 have since disappeared.

    Police Scotland confirmed they have carried out enquiries regarding the missing golden eagle.

    While some claim that its tag could simply have stopped working, golden eagles do face persecution.

    According to the RSPB, Tom is now the sixth golden eagle to have disappeared in this area since 2014.

    Golden eagles prey on a variety of species, but their diet sometimes includes bird species that have been specifically managed to be killed for sport, like grouse or pheasant.

    Raptor Persecution UK. A report by Scottish Natural Heritage in 2017 concluded that a third of satellite-tagged golden eagles had disappeared suspiciously.

    Scientists say they have ruled out malfunctioning tags and wind farms as possible causes for the eagles vanishing.

    "Our scientific report to Scottish Government on the fates of satellite-tagged golden eagles found there was a pattern of suspicious activity surrounding the 'disappearance' of many of these birds. This work gave rise to Professor [Alan] Werritty's Grouse Moor Management Report which ministers are considering."

    Ian Thomson, head of investigations at RSPB Scotland said: "We have had 50 or so golden eagles go missing in identical circumstances on grouse moors since 2004. It's in the nature of a young eagle to be nomadic. They go all over Scotland, right up to the Inner Hebrides, then when they travel to the grouse moors in the East, they disappear mysteriously."

    "There have been no prosecutions for the killing of a golden eagle in Scotland," said Mr Thomson.

    According to the last national survey, in 2015, there were 508 pairs of golden eagles in Scotland.

    Ruth Tingay, from RPUK, told BBC News: "The Scottish government has known about the persecution of golden eagles on grouse moors for decades. It has kicked it into the long grass. The case has been made; there is huge public support, and there has been every opportunity to legislate. It's clear the industry can't self-regulate."

    Tim Baynes, who is moorland director for Scottish Land & Estates, said: "Local estates have been actively involved in efforts to find the golden eagle... We realise that when a tag stops transmitting there will be speculation as to whether it has died or has been killed. However, as searches have found nothing and eagles were recorded flying in the area shortly after the tag stopped transmitting and thereafter, this bird could well be still flying around with a malfunctioning tag."