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Should the Scottish sea eagle population be controlled?

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Asks www.thescottishfarmer.co.uk

 

Farmers and crofters have had enough and are now calling for official action. The government must now take heed. These alien birds are proving a real threat to the iconic golden eagle, as well as lambs and hoggs.

 

To read the full article click here.

 

I do apologise for not knowing too much about the situation, ie Sea Eagle vs Golden Eagles.

 

How succesful has reintroduction been? Is the Scottish Sea Eagle proving a threat to other wildlife and livestock? When in the article it says they are alien birds, does that mean Sea eagles were not previously in the areas in which they have been reintroduced?

 

@@Rainbirder and other other birders of Safaritalk, what is your opinion on the question being asked and, have you got any images of the 2 conflicting eagle species you can upload?

 

Matt

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I have been following the sea eagle re-introductions for some time and having brought up sea eagles before in another thread I thought I’d comment.

 

The use of the word alien here is either deliberate misuse of language or a sign of the author’s ignorance after all if sea eagles were alien then it wouldn’t be a re-introduction, I tend to suspect the former is the case.

 

The time has now come for the Scottish Government to admit that sea eagle re-introduction has gone wrong - and do something about it.

 

 

If golden eagles are really as iconic as he suggests why are they still being illegally persecuted by game keepers were it not for the continued poisoning of golden eagles in Scotland there would likely now be a breeding population in the north of England. Human persecution is a far greater threat to golden eagles than competition from sea eagles and to imply that the former is native and the latter is not is (in my view) being deliberately misleading. Sea eagles as suggested by their name are primarily (though not exclusively) coastal birds and were once found right around the British Isles as much at home on the south coast of England as in the Scottish Isles.

 

The white-tailed sea eagle once lived all over Britain, even nesting as far

south as the Isle of Wight in 1780. The last known sea eagle in the UK

lived in Shetland. She was an albino (all white) and the locals had

protected her for over 30 years. Eventually she was shot in 1918 and the

sea eagle became EXTINCT in Britain. Sea Eagles had been wiped out

by persecution by farmers and gamekeepers. One Scottish estate at

Glengarry recorded a total of 1372 birds of prey killed between 1837

and 1840 including 27 white-tailed eagles.

 

 

All about White-tailed Sea Eagles

 

The re-introduction of sea eagles to the Scottish Islands and West Coast has so far proved very successful the population principally on Skye, Mull and Wester Ross in 2012 numbered 57 pairs. At the same time in 2012 the re-introduction of eagles to the East Coast of Scotland came to an end this part of the project has so far also so far proved successful and sea eagles are now breeding on the East Coast, the hope is that the two populations will eventually meet in the middle.

 

Though I haven’t yet been to see the Sea eagles plenty of other people have according to the RSPB website

 

Research has shown that of a total annual tourist spend of £100m on Mull, £5m was attracted by the presence of sea eagles.

 

 

There is a similar project to re-introduce sea eagles to the South West of Ireland however there is considerable opposition from local sheep farmers and a significant number of the released birds have been poisoned, putting the success of the project in doubt.

 

The proposed re-introduction of sea eagles to the coast of Suffolk will more than likely not go ahead or has certainly been put on hold largely because of opposition from local people.

 

Are Sea Eagles Coming Back to Suffolk

 

Surely we don't have to wait until a small child is attacked before the government intervenes

 

 

This is this just the most ridiculous nonsense I have ever heard all of the chicks brought over for reintroduction have come from Norway where there is a large population of sea eagles, I have never once heard of a Norwegian child being snatched by an eagle and if such a thing had ever happened I certainly would have done.

 

If Scottish farmers and game keepers genuinely believe that sea eagles are causing serious problems then they should produce proper independent scientific evidence to prove this is the case and stop all the daft scaremongering which only serves to make them look ridiculous.

 

So the answer to the question is no, until someone produces credible evidence that sea eagles are having significant impact on livestock or wildlife they should not be controlled.

 

While I’m sure that most game keepers do not persecute birds of prey sadly too many still do so the idea that the Scottish Game Keepers Association should be especially concerned about golden eagles is just laughable when these birds are still being poisoned.

 

This is another example of an issue that is being deliberately clouded by propaganda and misinformation in this case by people who are hoping that the majority of the Scottish public will be sufficiently ignorant or ill informed to take their side. What’s more if there really is an issue with sea eagles taking some lambs then exaggerating the problem won’t help at all.

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@@inyathi Thanks mate for an excellent and well presented overview which has certainly helped my understanding. The idea that it positively increases tourism is an important point: how many are talking about that? Matt

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Does this issue relate more to the mainland populations? I've only visited Mull on one occasion, just over a year ago, and never got a hint of there being an issue between White Tailed Sea Eagles and Golden Eagles from local people I talked to; they are a major tourist draw on Mull. I did read the article and felt compelled to vote no to controls on their website!

 

But I have to say, what a load of tosh, emotive rubbish with no facts to back up any of the claims made and as for the 'attack a child' scare!!! I'm sure mothers across Scotland can't sleep at night worrying about this issue and their children must be living in fear of Eagle attacks!!!

 

If that article was printed on paper instead of on the internet the only thing it would be good for is to wipe your backside with!!!

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This is the usual mix of scaremongering linked to bad journalism. Sea Eagles are native not alien and in the last 10,000 years have only been missing from Scotland for under 70 years when they were poisoned and shot to extinction.

 

There is no evidence that they out-compete Golden Eagles which are also doing well on Mull (due to lack of persecution).

In fact farmers and crofters hate Golden Eagles more than Sea Eagles!

 

Here is a link to the typical bad journalism that these raptors are subjected to: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1361000/Golden-eagle-clutches-lamb-Isle-Mull-razor-sharp-talons.html

 

In the above example the "facts" surrounding the two eagle species are mixed up to sensationalise the issue. The picture shows a Golden Eagle with a lamb in its talons. The text then discusses the Sea Eagle re-introduction programme as if the pictured raptor was a Sea Eagle. Eagles eat dead lambs and have been observed doing so on numerous occasions. Just because an eagle has a dead lamb in its talons it doesn't necessarily mean that the eagle killed the lamb. Far more lambs die from bad weather and bad husbandry than the combined effects of all the predatory mammals and birds put together.

 

As for the nonsense of a Sea Eagle taking a child -this is complete fiction.

Children are in far more danger from farm animals: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/11-animals-more-likely-to-kill-you-than-sharks

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We go up to Scotland a lot-especially Mull-where the sea eagle re-introduction has been a massive boost to tourism-it has one of the highest densities of Golden eagles as well as a healthy and increasing sea eagle population(and very good otter viewing). Both species may take the occasional poorly lamb-there was-and may be still is-a compensation scheme for lambs on mull-.The only research done on the species inter-action I have ever found is on Norway-staking out a deer carcase- Goldies displaced Sea eagles whenever the 2 were present. Sea eagles can utilise coastal areas which may make a difference-they are lower lying and less affected by bad weather-and seem to be less prone to disturbance-they are perhaps better adapted to islands like Mull. Both birds, when seen, are magnificent- to me-and forgive the anthromorphism-Goldies seem fiercer, but to have a sea eagle fly overhead-or to see its huge talons or massive beak -is very impressive !(I prefer just Goldies, Jane Sea Eagles!).As a final point, the book "Birds of prey of the British Isles by Brian Martin does records the last Sea Eagle before the re-introduction was shot on Skye in 1918 and the last English breeding record as 1794. It also records one authenticated account in Norway, 1932 of a Sea Eagle taking a 4year old Norwegian girl and carrying her about a mile, dropping her on a ridge about a mile away.She was rescued unharmed apart from some scratches! and her name was Svanhild Hansen-the book records she kept the dress complete with holes!

Now I wish I was back on Mull.

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