Glen Tanar Estate supports hen harriers & golden eagles

Some very welcome good news for a change –

Michael and Claire Bruce, the forward-thinking owners of Glen Tanar Estate, near Aboyne on Royal Deeside, have this year demonstrated that there is no need to persecute hen harriers or golden eagles to accomodate driven grouse shooting.

Glen Tanar Estate

Glen Tanar Estate forms a substantial part of the Cairngorms National Park, and the Estate includes several EU Natura 2000 sites as well as a National Nature Reserve. Golden eagles and hen harriers have bred successfully on the Estate for many years. However, shooting parties have been absent since the late 1990s when the local grouse population dropped below a sustainable level – partly due to predation by hen harriers but also partly due to land management practices.

In 2010, in addition to normal moor management, Michael started a hen harrier diversionary feeding experiment to try and discourage the harriers from taking too many grouse. Feeding started when there were three eggs in the harriers’ nest and continued until the chicks fledged. The supplementary food included chopped up white rats and poultry. Three chicks fledged successfully, and a satellite transmitter was attached to one male and one female chick so that the dispersal movements of these young birds can be monitored. In addition to the successful harrier breeding attempt, driven grouse shooting began on August 12th 2010 for the first time in over a decade.

Michael said: “Estates where shooting forms an important part of the economy have to find innovative ways of reducing conflict between raptors and red grouse. Supplementary feeding may be one way of doing this“.

He added that at Glen Tanar Estate, concerns over boosting the hen harrier population were mitigated by the presence of golden eagles. “Some estates fear that feeding hen harriers will simply increase the harrier population and increase predation on grouse, and there is a risk this may be true. However, feeding hen harriers has never been tried before in the presence of golden eagles, which themselves predate harriers. The hope in Glen Tanar is that eagles, harriers and grouse will all find a level that allows commercial shooting of driven grouse to take place“.

Golden eagles on the Glen Tanar Estate this year produced two of the heaviest chicks ever recorded. The resident adult eagles had been fed over the winter with thin, un-saleable deer carcasses. The food was given partly to attract the eagles to a regular winter-feeding site where it is hoped to provide a photographic hide in the future. However, Michael believes that winter feeding of golden eagles should also reduce predation on grouse.

Michael Bruce and his team on the Glen Tanar Estate deserve our full admiration for their efforts, and it is hoped other estate owners will follow his lead.

If you wish to show your support of Glen Tanar Estate, encourage your friends, family, colleagues, everyone, to visit them for holiday cottages, walking, wildlife safaris, fishing etc. More information can be found on the Glen Tanar website:

6 thoughts on “Glen Tanar Estate supports hen harriers & golden eagles”

  1. Yes…a welcome if belated change of heart on this estate…which has a large National Nature Reserve at its heart and should therefore have been run on these lines a long time ago.

    However, the key to the whole problem of raptors and grouse can be seen in Bruce’s statements…”The hope…eagles, harriers and grouse will all find a level…”

    Driven grouse shooting is a largely unplanned activity [compare it to agriculture or forestry]invented at a time when wildlife was utterly disposable by individual landowners. [Also at a time when labour was also cheap and disposable].Grouse and predators didnt have to co-exist, you simply removed the predators – to extinction in many cases.

    It may be impossible to have driven grouse shooting at a commercial level while predators are unmolested [and remember, this is a totally artificial burned environment, which attracts predators to artificial numbers of prey]. In which case, why on earth, as a society, are we allowing this practice to continue?…answers on a postcard to your nearest feudal landlord/ wealthy and influential shooting tenant or craven politician.

  2. At least the Eagle chicks have gained out of this. In future with the economic climate as it is the estates will be looking for more income, they could get this through birdwatchers etc staying to watch the Eagles and Harriers. This could lead to Raptors being looked after by these estates, not poisoned. If this is successful more estates would do it. Who knows it could catch on. I wish. As for craven politician’s, there to busy now trying to justify there expenses or writing there memoirs, perhaps they should remember there will be an election in Scotland next year, they might need our votes. The time has come for politician’s to do something, the estates have to be forced to stop killing Raptors.

  3. Well done Glen Tanar Estate.

    I personally applaud your positive and progressive success.

    Could this possibly be the foundations for others to follow?

  4. Might I suggest that it’s unfair to imply that Glen Tanar are unique in their progressive approach? Might I also suggest that it’s counter-productive to over-generalise and suggest that all ‘these estates’ are routinely involved in raptor poisoning.

    Whilst I concede I’m not as close to the ‘raptor issue’ as I once was, and that I cannot therefore back up my perceptions with factual evidence, I’d nevertheless suggest that many other estates are anxious to rid themselves of the widely-perceived reputation of raptor persecutors.

    Glenfeshie for example, has been instrumental in promoting public engagement with eagle behaviour through their collaboration with Roy Dennis and CNPA. Others have, or are willing to, adopt or adapt to change.

    Whilst raptor persecution remains a real stain on the reputation of Scotland’s upland estates, it would be wrong to assume that every estate is involved. And in my view, the implication does little to encourage a change of mindset. The carrot is much more palatable than the stick.

  5. Dear Peter,

    Thanks for your message. You pointed out the deficiency in your argument beautifully – your perception is exactly that – just a perception and lacking in factual evidence with which to back it up. Although you are right on one point – ‘these estates’ ARE keen to rid themselves of their reputation as raptor persecutors – of course they are – look at the long list of estate owners and managers who signed the recent SRPBA petition. But look a little closer, Peter – just because they want rid of their reputation doesn’t mean they want to stop persecuting raptors.

    My argument that raptor persecution is widespread and continues to this day is backed up with factual evidence – just read the blog entries and weep.


  6. I think that feeding these raptors such as the golden eagle over the winter is fantastic. This is something that is already done in Finland

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