Two years ago in July 2009, Alma, a two-year golden eagle who had been satellite-tracked across Scotland from her birth place on the Glenfeshie Estate, was found dead. She was discovered lying face-down in the heather on Millden Estate, Angus and later tests showed she had been poisoned by the banned pesticide Carbofuran.
The police conducted a search of Millden Estate and the local community responded with anger to Alma’s death. They wrote letters of concern to the local estates, the Environment Minister and the Chairman of Scottish Natural Heritage. On the second anniversary of her death, has anybody been brought to justice for killing her? Not that we know of.
Alma’s death is not a stand alone case, as we are all too aware. Prior to her killing in 2009, 17 golden eagles were confirmed victims of shooting, trapping or nest destruction in Scotland, between 1989 and 2009, according to this RSPB report. In addition, in the same report a further 24 golden eagles were confirmed victims of illegal poisoning in Scotland during the same period, including Alma.
The killing didn’t end with Alma. Since her death in 2009, a further 5 golden eagles have been confirmed killed – four of them last year (3 of them at Skibo Estate and one on an un-named grouse moor near Inverness ) and at least one known death so far this year, on North Glenbuchat Estate. That makes a total of 46. And these are only the ones we know about. There are other suspicious incidents, such as the four golden eagle leg rings reported to have been found in 2010 in the possession of convicted gamekeeper James Rolfe of the Moy Estate. As this report points out, these rings were originally fitted to golden eagle chicks prior to their fledging from nests in Sutherland, Grampian, Mull and Skye. These rings must have been removed from the dead eagles but how they came to be in Rolfe’s possession is unclear.
Add these four to the grand total and you get a minimum of 50 golden eagles illegally persecuted in Scotland since 1989. Nobody has ever been convicted for any of these reported crimes.
One thought on “A recent history of golden eagle persecution in Scotland”
Quote: “Nobody has ever been convicted for any of these reported crimes.”
What do you expect, the majority of these estates are run by our so-called peers of the realm, many of whom are supposed to be the very people responsible for upholding the laws of our land. The old boys act is as strong now as it was a 100 years ago, a nod here, a wink there and their problems just disappear.