Sea eagles have been back in the news recently, with concerns raised about whether the newly-reintroduced eagles are able to ‘cope’ with their environment. The Scottish Land and Estates (SLE) organisation has used the media opportunity to take another side swipe at the reintroduction project.
A couple of weeks ago, the SSPCA reported that nine sea eagles had been rescued in the last year, and five of those were exhausted and weak after heavy rain (see here). The National Farmer’s Union (Scotland) were quick to criticise the East Scotland sea eagle reintroduction project, saying that the east coast reintroduction is an RSPB-led ‘forced expansion’ that is ‘backfiring’. They go on to say: “The birds are clearly struggling to cope with the combination of bad weather and the environment” (see here). An interesting perspective, given that the environmental conditions in Norway (where the young eagles were born) are comparable with the environmental conditions in Scotland where they are released (see here) and that the west Scotland sea eagle reintroduction project (in an area that endures a higher rainfall than east Scotland) has proved a resounding success with over 50 known breeding eagle pairs taking up residence. Yes, of course the issue of nine rescued sea eagles is of concern, especially in such a small population that is still recovering from the effects of persecution, but, is it any different to ‘natural’ levels of young sea eagle mortality?
Meanwhile, Scottish Land and Estates has published a press release about it all, initially focusing on the welfare issue but quickly moving on to the “impact that these released predators are having on game birds” [they don’t provide any supporting evidence for this ‘impact’], “and the potential risk there is to the poultry industry within this area“. They go on to say that Doug McAdam (CEO) tried to join the Sea Eagle Project Team but his request was turned down. He said: “An opportunity to bring some transparency and to give a voice for local business concerns was missed“.
We’re really pleased that Mr McAdam has raised the issue of transparency – this word will feature in our next post…
Scottish Land and Estates press release here
RSPB blog about East Scotland Sea Eagle Project here