Representatives of NFU Scotland are meeting with SNH today in a ‘call for action’ against white-tailed eagles.
They haven’t exactly specified what ‘action’ they want from the government although the words ‘control measures’ are mentioned. These words are the more palatable version of ‘kill/cull’.
Why do they want sea eagles to be ‘controlled’? Ah, the usual arguments – the sea eagle population is out of control, sea eagles are out-competing golden eagles, sea eagles are eating all the lambs, sea eagles are eating everything else as well as all the lambs, sea eagles might eat a child, sea eagles are ‘impacting’ on the wider biodiversity, sea eagles are eating all the hares, sea eagles are eating all the goats, sea eagles are causing emotional damage…. Oh, and the government’s ‘eagle-damage’ compensation scheme for farmers/crofters just happens to have ended.
The NFU Scotland ‘call for action’ features on the front page of the Scottish Farmer today (see here).
Unfortunately, the article doesn’t include any information about the findings of previous studies looking at the so-called impact of reintroduced sea eagles on lambs (answer = negligible, see here and here).
Nor does it include any reference to two recent scientific studies looking at the presumed competitive effect of white-tailed eagles on neighbouring golden eagles. Both concluded no evidence of effect:
Evans et al. (2010). Comparative nest habitat characteristics of sympatric White-tailed and Golden Eagles in western Scotland. Bird Study 57 (4): 473-482 (read it here).
Whitfield et al. (2013). Breeding season diets of sympatric white-tailed eagles and golden eagles in Scotland: no evidence for competitive effects. Bird Study 60 (1): 67-76 (read it here).
Of course, this is just the latest in a long line of alarmist nonsense from both farmers and gamekeepers (who can forget the SGA’s recent claim that sea eagles might eat children – see here!) and then there was this, and perhaps best of all, this.
Not to be deterred by scientific evidence, or even just plain common sense, the editor of the Scottish Farmer, Mr Alasdair Fletcher, has set up a survey to ask whether the sea eagle population should be ‘controlled’ (in his opinion the answer should be ‘yes’). You, too, can take the carefully considered, unbiased survey here!
UPDATE 26th JANUARY 2014 – POLL RESULTS HERE!