There ought to be a lot more Golden Eagles in the UK and the results of the most recent survey (2015) show that there are more than in 2003 so that’s good news. There are 508 pairs of Golden Eagles in Scotland which represents an increase of 15% which isn’t bad at all and is jolly good news.
Apparently, being over 500 pairs represents favourable conservation status although there are over 700 traditional Golden Eagle territories in Scotland so we are an awful long way short of that.
Four satellite-tagged Golden Eagles have been found illegally killed in the Central and Eastern Highlands in recent years: “Alma” in 2009, a bird in Glenbuchat in 2011, a trapped bird in Millden in 2012 and “Fearnan” in 2013.
Various people and an eagle were quoted as follows:
Duncan Orr-Ewing, Head of Species and Land Management at RSPB Scotland, said: “The sight of a golden eagle soaring in the sky above is an awe-inspiring part of our natural heritage, and this increase in numbers of golden eagle pairs is great news. Across many parts of Scotland there’s been a very welcome turnaround in how people respect these magnificent birds, part of a more enlightened public attitude towards birds of prey. Increased monitoring and satellite tagging of eagles, as well as stronger sanctions against wildlife crime may be serving as effective deterrents against illegal activity, therefore helping their population to increase. However, the continued absence of golden eagles in some areas of eastern Scotland remains a real cause for concern and suggests that much more work needs to be done.”
Andrew Bachell, SNH’s Director of Policy & Advice, said: “It’s wonderful to see golden eagles reaching favourable conservation status nationally. These beautiful birds are such an important part of Scotland’s nature, a species which people love to see when they visit our wilder landscapes. It’s particularly encouraging to see greater recovery in some areas where persecution had been thought to be a major constraint in the past. That picture is uneven though, and we would still expect eagles to be doing better in parts of the eastern Highlands. We will continue to look at all the factors which may be limiting numbers, in the hope that we will see further spread of the range and increase in numbers of eagles in the future. We continue to work with the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime Scotland (PAW Scotland) group to combat persecution of birds of prey.”
Daniel Hayhow, lead author of the study, said: “The huge national survey effort required a minimum three visits to over 700 known traditional golden eagle sites, the length and breadth of Scotland. We thank the voluntary Scottish Raptor Study Group for the dedication and expertise of their surveyors, who went out in all weathers in some of the remotest parts of Scotland. Without them we simply would not have the vital data needed to assess the numbers of these magnificent birds. We also acknowledge the help and support of many landowners and farmers who provided invaluable logistical support on the ground.”
Patrick Stirling-Aird, Scottish Raptor Study Group Secretary, said: “The Scottish Raptor Study Group is very pleased to have played a key role in the 2015 national golden eagle survey and welcomes the recorded increase in the bird’s numbers since the previous 2003 survey, in essence a recovery from a lower level brought about by human agency. The Scottish Raptor Study Group is grateful for the help given to its surveyors by land owners and land managers in many locations but will analyse and pay particular attention to golden eagle population recovery (or the continuing lack of it) in parts of the central and eastern Highlands.”
Tim Baynes, Director of the Scottish Moorland Group, part of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “Our members are passionate about the golden eagles on their land and it is in large part a tribute to their management and collaboration that the population has increased. They have helped the surveyors and worked with Scottish Natural Heritage in the interest of golden eagles for many years. The east Highlands still have the highest level of productivity (young per pair) and a stable number of occupied territories over more than three decades. The south central Highlands, which includes significant areas of driven grouse moor has shown by far the greatest increase in range occupancy – 70% – since 2003. Overall, we are pleased that golden eagles are now in ‘favourable conservation status’ for the first time since national surveys started.”
Goldie McEagle, spokesperson for the UK Golden Eagle population, said: “Our members are passionate about the intensive grouse moors that have taken over so much of our land and it is in large part due to illegal persecution associated with that land use that we are still missing from over 200 traditionally occupied territories. We’d like to ask all grouse shooting estates to uphold the law and let us live in peace because we were here first. Please stop leaving poisons out on the hill and killing huge numbers of yummy Mountain Hares. We are the real hunters of Red Grouse and it takes a lot of skill to catch them the way we do rather than hang around in little shelters and wait for them to be driven towards you. Call yourselves hunters?!
It’s nice to see you all congratulating yourselves but I’m not sure that being more than 200 pairs below potential is what my members would call favourable status. You lot could do an awful lot more for us you know.”[registration_form]