Another endangered eagle missing over grouse moors

White tailed eagle crop

This is the fourth satellite-tagged eagle to go missing in the area since 2014

Graham Martin's photo

18th April 2018 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Yet another satellite-tagged eagle has gone missing in Scotland in highly suspicious circumstances.

RSPB Scotland has said it is assisting the police in the search for the white tailed eagle in the Glen Quaich area of Perthshire.

This is the fourth satellite-tagged eagle (the other three have been golden eagles) to go missing in this area since 2014.

It follows a pattern of bird of prey disappearances.

The grouse-shooting industry has come under suspicion after a golden eagle went missing in the northern Monadhliath Mountains of Inverness-shire last month.

It disappeared from an area which has been described as a "black hole" for birds of prey, where 12 tagged eagles have mysteriously vanished in just seven years.

The area where the white-tailed eagle has gone missing is similarly dominated by grouse moors.

Duncan Orr-Ewing, head of species and land management at RSPB Scotland, said: “A report published by the Scottish Government last May, prompted by the regular disappearance of satellite-tagged eagles, provided unequivocal evidence that the sudden disappearance of these birds when reliable tags suddenly stop transmitting is highly suspicious.

“This is the third of five white-tailed eagle chicks to have fledged from the first successful nest in east Scotland – the product of a Scottish Government-sponsored reintroduction project – to have disappeared in such circumstances, suggesting it has also been illegally killed.

“We call on the Scottish Government to introduce a robust licencing system for driven grouse shooting with sanctions for removal of licences where criminal patterns of behaviour are established to the satisfaction of the authorities.

“Those that obey the law and conduct their operations within it have nothing to fear from such a regulatory framework.”

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said its members have also taken part in the search and asked anyone with information to contact Police Scotland.

Chairman Alex Hogg said: “When learning about the bird, gamekeepers immediately offered their help in the searches. They want the bird found if it has perished. They are first to be accused when any bird of prey goes missing, or a tag stops working.

“They have also pledged to search other areas in the vicinity over the coming days and report to police.”

White-tailed eagles, also known as sea eagles, are the UK’s largest and one of its most endangered birds of prey.

It became extinct at the hands of gamekeepers in 1918, but was subject to a pioneering reintroduction programme on Rum from the mid-70s.

A reintroduction programme aimed at establishing it on the east coast was carried out between 2007 and 2012.

There are estimated to be just over 100 breeding pairs in the whole of the country.