11th November 2016
NEWS that Scotland’s population of golden eagles has grown by 15 percent over the last decade has been hailed by conservationists.
Results of the fourth national golden eagle survey show numbers of the bird of prey have increased to 508 pairs from 442 in the last survey in 2003.
Experts say the figures show the golden eagle, regarded by many people as Scotland’s national bird, is recovering to previous historic levels.
Tim Baynes, director of the Scottish Moorland Group, 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 National Heritage (SNH) in the interest of golden eagles for many years.”
Scotland is now more than likely home to the entire UK population, RSPB Scotland said, following reports earlier this year that England’s only resident golden eagle was feared to have died.
The northern Highlands and central areas between the Great Glen and Stirlingshire saw the greatest increase in eagle numbers between 2003 and 2015, with modest increases also found in the west Highlands and Islands.
The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) said it was delighted the golden eagle was now in favourable status.
Chairman Alex Hogg said: “Three years ago, the SGA started counting eagles on ground managed by gamekeepers and the increase we reported between year one and year three is accurately mirrored in this study.
“Some of the most productive eagle nests in Scotland have been on driven grouse moors in the last few years, with one nest in the Angus Glens producing three chicks in 2014 and rare triplets in another nest on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park in 2015.
“The Cairngorms National Park now boasts one of the largest concentrations of golden eagles per land area anywhere on the planet, on land managed in most part for grouse shooting, which is an achievement which should not be belittled through a desire to divide.”
Director of The Moorland Association, Amanda Anderson, congratulated all those involved in the success.
She said: “Clearly land managers and conservationists working together has paid huge dividends and we applaud the great achievement of restoring the UK population to favourable status. Long may it be sustained!”
The golden eagle survey was carried out during the first six months of 2015 and was co-funded by RSPB and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
Having surpassed 500 pairs, golden eagles are now designated ‘favourable conservation status’ in the UK.