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Moorland Association welcomes Golden Eagle release in southern Scotland

21st August 2018

The Moorland Association has today joined a raft of organisations in welcoming the news that conservationists have successfully transported three Golden Eagle chicks from the Scottish Highlands to an undisclosed location in the southern uplands of Scotland.

The £1.3m South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project (SSGEP) is a collaborative project between land managers and conservationists working to increase the breeding population and range of Golden Eagles across Dumfries & Galloway and the Scottish Borders.

Project partners Scottish Land & Estates, Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Buccleuch, RSPB Scotland and the Southern Uplands Partnership, have been working together for more than eleven years to bring it to fruition.

Funded by The National Lottery, project partners, the Scottish Government and local LEADER Programmes, the initiative is a key project under the Scottish Government’s 2020 Challenge for Scottish Biodiversity, which sets out a route map to protect and restore Scotland’s biodiversity.

Earlier this year, led by SSGEP, conservationists in the Scottish Highlands carefully collected the chicks under license from Scottish Natural Heritage and took them to their new home in a confidential location in the Moffat Hills.

The birds were then cared for in specially-designed release aviaries and supplementary fed through the autumn/winter period to help them adjust to their new habitat before their release. Experts at the University of Edinburgh Dick Vet School have also provided considerable support throughout the process to monitor the health and wellbeing of the birds.

To help safeguard the area’s natural heritage for generations to come, and celebrate Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018, children and young people in schools across the South of Scotland have adopted the birds, naming them Edward, Beaky and Emily.

Mark Oddy, Chair of the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project said: “Arguably Scotland’s most iconic bird, in recent decades the south Scotland Golden Eagle population has been small and fragmented. We want to give it a helping hand to overcome problems in the past which have limited the size and viability of the population.”

“It is amazing to see the first of our first chicks now settling down and soaring majestically above the Moffat Hills. We couldn’t have done this without the incredible support we’ve had from supporters, landowners and managers, conservationist partners and the funding we’ve received from the Heritage Lottery Fund and local Leader Programmes. It is also reassuring for future biodiversity conservation to see such passion among local children and young people for the project.”

Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association said: “All those involved in this initiative must be congratulated for their tireless collaborative work in bringing it to fruition. A revived population in southern Scotland will hopefully make a significant contribution to expanding the range of the internationally important Scottish population of Golden Eagles, with the possibility of a few investigating territories south of the border in to England.”

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Did You Know?

75% of of the world’s remaining heather moorland is found in Britain – but this area declined alarmingly over the latter part of the last century. The Moorland Association was set up in 1986 to coordinate the efforts of moorland owners and managers to halt this loss, particularly in England and Wales.

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