Landowners across Scotland are celebrating the increase in golden eagles and it is misleading to attribute this rise only to stronger laws against wildlife crime. (Eagles soar after tougher sanctions, The Times, 10 November).
Upland estates have been quietly looking after their eagles for many decades, often generations. There are many reasons for low range occupation as shown in the science behind the new South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project including ‘conifer plantings, poor food supplies, poor productivity, a lack of potential nest sites, recreational disturbance, persecution, and a shortage of recruits.’
Grouse shooting is blamed for low numbers in eastern Scotland, but the number of occupied ranges in that region has been stable since national surveys began.
The region which shows the greatest increase in range occupancy, 70 per cent, is south central Highlands, including the Monadhliaths – an area which includes significant areas of driven grouse moor. This is not a simple picture and we look forward to the full report. Monitoring and satellite tagging keep records - but it is people such as gamekeepers that manage the land where golden eagle increases have occurred.
Director of the Scottish Moorland Group, part of Scottish Land & Estates
Stuart House, Eskmills
Musselburgh EH21 7PB