Golden Eagles are illegally killed on grouse moors – it’s official. It’s not a surprise, and it’s been a while coming, but there isn’t a hiding place for grouse moor managers in Scotland. And we are sure to see Scottish politicians following through on this report – after all, they’ve had enough time to think about it.
Here are some extracts:
- For the 131 birds entered into analyses, there were 10 natural deaths, five birds killed, and 41 birds with a ‘stopped no malfunction’ fate.
- This report addresses the question: is there a pattern of suspicious activity surrounding the ‘disappearance’ of many satellite tagged golden eagles?
- In answer to the question ‘was there a suspicious pattern in the sudden failure
to transmit for many tagged eagles?’ The answer was: ‘Yes’.
- Overall, we have found no evidence that satellite tagging of golden eagles in
Scotland causes any harm to tagged birds, either physically, behaviourally, or
- We found no evidence that wind farms or activities associated with their operation
accounted for losses of tagged eagles, or the disappearance of eagles with tags that
suddenly stopped functioning.
- Previous research has indicated that persecution, largely through the killing of birds, was a major constraint on the Scottish golden eagle population in regions of Scotland where driven grouse moor predominated as the major land use.
- Overall, the final fixes of tags which stopped working suddenly, with no malfunction, were significantly more likely to be closer to recent records of persecution events than were the final fixes of other tags which were not suspicious.
- The final fixes of the many ‘stopped no malfunction’ tags were significantly associated with persecution records. Their sudden demise was evidently due in large part to people killing the tagged birds (and the disposal of the bird and its tag subsequently).
- Corroborative information points to the perpetrators of the persecution of
tagged eagles being associated with some grouse moors in the central and
eastern Highlands of Scotland.
- It was apparent that satellite tagging of young golden eagles revealed that many
young birds have probably been illegally killed in some parts of Scotland
between 2004 and 2016, largely in the central and eastern Highlands. Such
illegal killing potentially has consequences for the future golden eagle
population’s trajectory within mainland Scotland. This is especially so in those
regions where such killing continues to occur; many decades after such acts
- Overall, we conclude that a relatively large number of the satellite tagged golden
eagles were probably killed, mostly on or near some grouse moors where there
is recent, independent evidence of illegal persecution.
- This illegal killing has such a marked effect on the survival rates of the young
birds that the potential capacity for the breeding golden eagle population
continues to be suppressed around where this persecution largely occurs. In
these parts, mainly in the central and eastern Highlands of Scotland, the
prospects for recovery are poor.
This is a momentous day which brings closer the banning of driven grouse shooting in the UK. Well done to the Scottish government and particularly Roseanna Cunningham. Well done to those raptor workers who have collected the data over many years that helps us to understand the level of wildlife crime in the UK uplands.
We will soon see the implications of this report north of the Border.
The lack of activity by the Conservative government in England is put into even greater focus by this report and by the measures which will surely follow. Scotland is moving towards sunlit uplands whereas England is still languishing in the dark valleys of Tory indifference to wildlife crime.
If you care about the environment, vote for anyone who can stop the election of a Tory MP on 8 June.
- Posted in: Grouse and harriers