Farmers taking aim at sea eagles, again

Scottish Farmer eagle eaction call front pageRepresentatives 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).

baby-and-eagleOf 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!


55 thoughts on “Farmers taking aim at sea eagles, again”

  1. What a biased, I’ll-informed survey … Before you know it, sea-eagles will also be blamed for the housing crisis, the state of the economy … & for moving the goalposts!

  2. Here in Denmark the return of the White. tailed eagles has been a big success, no problems at all.
    But there will always be people, for whom everything is a problem, maybe especially farmers and Hunters, which often are the same.

  3. We wouldn’t expect anything less of these people. Demonisation of a species, with the aim of legitimising their slaughter, is historic, be it for money, recreation or both.

  4. Give Scotland back to the Sea Eagles. We can buy the finest lamb in the world cheaper from England & New Zealnd. Why subsidise scottish farmers to buy poison & cartridges.

    1. I agree with you, John. If this is to be the nonsensical attitude of NFU Scotland, then a temporary boycott of Scottish produce might make them think twice before publishing such erroneous work.

      Interesting one about Euan Warnock demanding that the government accept responsibility for the “emotional damage” caused by the White-tailed Eagles. I’m not sure if he is suggesting that compensation should be paid for this. If that’s the case, then fair enough – I just hope all vegetarians and vegans start claiming the NFU for the emotional damage caused to them by seeing animals caged, penned and then slaughtered!

      I would also be very interesting to know if Mr Warnock has, directly or indirectly, supplied produce to any of the shops and hotels on the island, produce that will be consumed by the many thousands of people each year visiting the island to see White-tailed Eagles, the very species he seems to have a zero tolerance for.

      A quick search on Google provided the following, from back in 1998, when the very same individual was complaining about the eagles and their “impact”, and calling for some form of management.

      At that time, he called for research into the effects of the eagles on other species. We now have the results of that research, proving that there is little or no impact on other species, farmed or wild, yet he has obviously chosen to ignore it all in favour of his warped and twisted ideas on the natural environment. Someone should tell this hypocrite that modern farming methods has a severe impact on wildlife.

      Another ill-informed “guardian of the countryside” that has shown the limitations of his knowledge of the Scottish countryside.

    2. What a great attitude to have about an Industry that fed this country through two world wars you really need to get a grip on reality!

      1. I agree with you if you are objecting to the boycott of Scottish farm produce (no matter how obscure your reasoning) but the rest of these comments are spot on.
        Any self respecting farmer will be embarrassed by this drivel of the NFU. Talk about an insult to intelligence.

      2. Yep, the farmers stayed at home and watched the sheep frolic about…..while the parents of the people who want to see the eagles thrive were either providing free labour on their farms or off fighting the war. Yes this point is fatuous and stupid…..just like yours. We are here and now and the plain truth is that farmers are propped up by public subsidy…especially so in these remote and marginal areas. The money is given for public benefit and that includes ensuring that they look after the environment. It is also worth bearing in mind that the agricultural subsidy is delivered via European schemes and its a fundamental principal of these schemes that their implementation will not undermine other EU measures. EG the Birds Directive.

        Ranting and moaning sells newspapers…..but in the real world tis not but fluff.

      3. Grouseman, what hell are you going on about now? Should we just sit aside whilst a NFU representative calls for White-tailed Eagles to be killed? Should we just sit aside whilst the NFU publish their prejudiced, ill-informed and unscientific tosh? If I choose to launch a personal, temporary boycott on an industry that has done very little for me, and on the whole does very little for wildlife, then I am perfectly entitled to do so.

        As for your emotive pish about the two world wars, what relevance does that hold with this discussion?

        1. At no point did I suggest the NFU were correct in what they are saying or that I supported them in a call for a control in numbers I was attacking the general farmer bashing mentality being banded around by many of the contributors. They have a right to make a living and have freedom of speech as everyone else in the country and the f##k them mentality, we will get food abroad, is detrimental to relations between all parties who care about the Scottish countryside.

          Maybe I should have made my point clearer so it was easier to read past your blinkers.

          1. And where exactly in my statement was the “farmer bashing” aspect? My statement revolved around the ill-informed NFU missive, Euan Warnock’s unscientific opinions and obvious hatred for White-tailed Eagles, and a proposed temporary boycott of Scottish produce. Yes, that’s correct – a TEMPORARY boycott, not a full-on, lifelong boycott, but a TEMPORARY boycott. Perhaps, if I keep repeating this in upper case, it might eventually register in your brain. You really must learn to read and understand statements before commenting with your usual drivel about people being “blinkered”. Really, is that all you can manage?

            As for your idea of a right to freedom of speech, again you are not quite correct. Anti-terror laws, anti-discrimination laws, human rights laws, civil liberties laws, etc, etc, can, and will, bring certain words and phrases into the realms of criminality, so once again you are wrong.

            You have obviously chosen to blindly believe something that someone once told you, without bothering to research the truths or the facts of the matter (just like most game shooters’ attitudes to raptors and predators!), so if you choose to, you can briefly research this for yourself and you will soon find that people in the UK are not entitled to freedom of speech, or freedom of expression. Indeed, some of the comments on this very site have been edited in the past, not only to protect the site owner(s) from criminal proceedings, but also the original poster. Undoubtedly more will be edited in the future. Why do you think that is?

            1. For a start I wasn’t actually objecting to what you said it was John Thorntons comments I was objecting to in particular. If you feel the need to defend yourself that’s another matter. I understand all that you point out I was simply using ‘freedom of speech’ as an expression. In the end of the day I don’t know why you are getting so excited about it there is about as much chance of the government ever authorising the killing of white tailed eagles as there is of the Leadhills Estate being bought in a community buyout!

              1. Fair enough Grouseman, but the format of the blog can make it look as though your response has been directed to me. Also, at times as a result of the slight delays in the moderation process, some posts (once moderated) can appear out of kilter. Perhaps referring to the intended recipient in your own reply could alleviate this problem.

                Getting back to the WTE issue, I also think it unlikely that the government will authorise any killing, but the crux of the matter is that the NFU (or any of their representatives) should not be publishing such ill-informed, and inflammatory statements, as they have. It is very easy for uninformed individuals to fall for propagandist nonsense and such statements will only lead to ill-feeling between conservationists/naturalists and the farming community.

              2. I stand by my comments. Ihave a lot of respect & admiration for genuine scotish hill farmers who have scraped a living off what meagre resources they have. The very people who understand nature and could teach us all a thing or two. The people who go out on a morning & see things first hand & still learn & appreciate everything they have & really care for & protect what they have. The problem is greedy crofters who want every penny they can claim for any mortal thing & commercial landowners who have no respect for anything except money.
                In these times every self respecting person who loves & appreciates what countryside we have left should do what they can to protect it. Anything destroyed for purely greed is completely unacceptable.

      4. And you seriously need to wake up and get modern. What farming did a 100 years and 70 plus years ago bears little relation to current times.
        Having said that I don’t think that the majority of farmers are all that bothered about any livestock threats from eagles of any type. No reasonable person could be. Farming has moved on. Some others clearly have not.

        1. Again you need to look a bit closer at what I said. Did I mention for one minute a agreed with a control on numbers or that the people calling for one were correct? I was objecting to the attitude to boycott the Scottish sheep industry due to some members of the NFU voicing their opinion.

          1. we all have opinions on all sorts of things but when an organisation such as the NFU propogate the rubbish we see here, it’s a different matter. They should show more responsibility and if the majority of farmers think they’re wrong to act in this way then let’s see them standing up and voicing this opposition.
            It’s like – not all gamekeepers are criminals or not all shooting illegal or irresponsible and clearly, not all Scottish hill farmers are wanting to control WTE – but where are they putting the organisations like NFU, SGA and others in their place?
            I would much rather see farmers and crofters boycott the NFU until they change their ways rather than me feel inclined into not supporting British farming. I am all for allowing market forces to weed out the extremists who tout this tosh rather than ignore and hope it will go away.

  5. I shall be travelling from Somerset this year again to see them. Will I be doing this when they have been wiped out?

  6. As if we don’t all contribute enough to these drains on the public purse, not only do they want our hard earned tax money, but now they want to take our joy away as well. F**k to the NFU and all who sail in her!!!

  7. The Scottish Farmer has a long running agenda against these birds and if you look at their facebook site they will also happily carry raptor scare stories from the SGA. Just before Christmas they had a “story” about Sea-Eagles killing a flock of young sheep all in one go. The only evidence was that some eagles were feeding on the carcasses. It was clear from the injuries on some of the sheep that they were a victim of a dog attack but why let facts like that get in the way of ones agenda??

  8. Emotional damage? Will the government be compensating me (and many, many like me) for the emotional damage arising from living in a world where iconic wildlife is at risk of slaughter by a bigoted, self-serving minority? Doubt it.

  9. Ever tried to find out what is paid to individual farmers in terms of subsidy. It is all very secret. Without complete disclosure about that I do not see any need to listen to what farmers have to say about anything.

  10. I think it says that Scottish farmers and crofters haven’t got enough to do and really worry about. Thiey must be the only nonsense-spouting industry that thinks they are owed a living by the rest of the nation. Don’t we have an education system in the Highlands?

  11. Notice the two for one joke in the intro page to the to the petition.
    ‘These alien birds are proving a real threat to the iconic golden eagle, as well as lambs and hoggs.’

    Hoggs are nearly full grown ewes. There is absolutely no way a White-tailed Eagle could take a Hogg.
    Lambs can only be killed when they are very young and some of these will be sick. Anyone who has had to carry a small lamb a long distance will realise how heavy they get at a very young age. This short window limits the number of lambs that can be taken.

    1. Technically my first sentence should read ‘sheep’ not ‘ewes’.
      Male hoggs are sold earlier so most hoggs kept are actually ewes.
      Pretty sure that is about right as make no odds.

  12. We have a great task ahead of us, with years of brainwashing that the gamekeepers and their employers have given us a beautiful landscape to enjoy, as they have kept “vermin” under control; a sort of einsatzgruppen that regularly cleanses the environment of any intruding bird of prey or mammal, that may impact on the numbers of the grouse or whatever, they want to shoot in great shooting holocausts. Articles in the press occasionally appear, praising those who “manage” the landscape for the nation’s benefit. Some of those in farming think the same way; they preach that they have saved us from starvation in war times, and continue to do so. I am not convinced by arguments of these two parties, that they solely act in an altruistic manner. They are in it for the money, whether from their activities or from grants/subsidies. Why should they be protected from market forces, unlike the poor sods who had to labour down mines, shipyards and dreadful factories? I never saw any of them standing in sympathy with those workers fighting for better conditions and wages. So, let us all hear less of the fake reasons why we should give them credence.

    The new people on the scene are those who wish to sort out the land ownership issue existing in Scotland, and who operate using rational argument for formulating landscape management policies, based on sound scientific research and opinion. There is also the mounting concern from those members of the public, who wish for a more humane treatment of wildlife in Scotland and elsewhere in the world. Wherever the rancher/farmer and shooting/trophy lobbies dominate, we get wildlife and the environment under severe threat, e.g. the current massacre of wolves in the USA and other exterminations.

    Rational and humane people in Scotland from all sectors of activity and opinion, must mount a determined challenge to the threat to White tailed Eagles, as these birds are a symbol of the battle to change what goes on in our countryside. The old regime based on outdated practices, have to move over or leave the scene, and allow those who wish to create a more dynamic and diverse natural environment in Scotland; one that will produce more rural jobs. Though I am not in favour of shooting/hunting, I could feel comfortable with those who support a complete change in how shooting estates are run, and thereby have their sport, but to agree on not blitzing birds of prey and other creatures. A fresh look at farming and those involved in it, to see if they are really contributive in an economical way to the economy. The landscape is up for investigation and now is the time for change. Democratising of land ownership is long overdue.

    1. Very well said. I for one will start supporting the British farrming industry that I subsidise, only when I see the old order and those in the NFU peddling utter rubbish, stand aside and allow those with more good sense to embrace change and protection of whole ecosystems inclusive of predators.

  13. Why are SNH entertaining this nonsense?? – the facts about WTSEs are out there and its time to put an end to such black propaganda by the likes of the Scottish farmer. Maybe some letters to and posting on this ragsheets FB site would help set them straight. If the Scottish authorities given into this type of nonsense then we may as well let the lunatics take over the asylum

  14. I’ve lost count the number of times the sheep crofters in the far north of Scotland have burnt out the Eagles eyries, the Hen Harriers, Merlins and the Short-eared Owls nests and habitat, not to mention all the other moorland wildlife environment they’ve destroyed. Their only excuse, to start fresh grass growth for the sheep? In reality they walk out onto the hill, throw down a match or two and then leave it to burn; they’ve burnt it so many times it’s destroyed the underlying peat in many places.

  15. I don’t agree with the generalized farmer bashing in most of the comments above.
    The NFU and Scottish Farmer are presenting an ignorant, uneducated and down right foolish view but i know they are not representative of all farmers. I have written a short comments on my blog
    The one thing they have probably got right is that most farmers in Argyll probably would be happy to see White-tailed Eagles ‘controlled’ and for this alone i can understand and share the strong feelings expressed above.
    In the sheep farmers defence there is one huge difference between them and many grouse shooting estate owners. Farmers may want to get rid of White-tailed Eagles but they don’t. I seem to remember there was a wildlife crime incident in mainland Argyll a few years ago but by and large farmers have been incredibly tolerant of White-tailed Eagles.
    I think for this they deserve respect. We have freedom of speech, it is the obeying the law which counts.

    1. The farming media in Scotland are the ones whipping up a non-story up. If such nonsense wasn’t appearing so often in these ragsheets the vast majority of sheep farmers would barely notice the eagles as is the case in other countries

      1. I agree. A lot is gossip and chinese whispers.
        And politicians (e.g. complaining about the loss of rabbits to eagles)!

    2. I might agree Anand although I don’t see the good farming folk in the UK leaving the NFU in their droves like perhaps they should?

  16. Has anyone else noticed the whole front page. The beauty of the English language, “Crank” starting the New Year!!

  17. What a complete waste of time, effort and money. Import Eagles from Norway, involve two Governments, countless organisations and twenty odd years later somebody wants to cull them!

    1. It’s almost as big a waste of time, effort and money as the RSPB taking Golden Eagle chicks out of nests in Scotland and exporting them to Ireland for them to get poisoned by farmers like they did for many years!

      1. You would think that in this century, the farmers in Ireland (and elsewhere) would tolerate the majority view, and learn to live with the Eagles. If they are so incapable of living with their fellow humans majority view, the full force of the law should come down on them, so as to protect the majority of the populations wishes.

      2. Thank you for that information, so the RSPB actually gets things wrong occasionally! I will have to amend my will.

  18. Why do people rubbish all farmers simply because a few(maybe as few as ten)get a resolution passed to control Sea Eagles and paper publishes it.
    Fact is a farmer on Mull reported a very seriously injured Sea Eagle to authorities thus saving its life and although it now has a partly damaged wing is still surviving 3 years later.
    Proof that no one on here should be silly enough to put all farmers in same boat.
    This resolution which I think was started by another Mull farmer may just be connected to the fact a compensation scheme is probably ending

    1. Den, I’m quite sure that the overwhelming majority of farmers on Mull welcome the benefits that the White-tailed Eagles bring to the local economy, not just the island but mainland Argyll as well, but this individual NFU representative (Euan Warnock) should not be spouting his ill-informed message, and a national journal such as the Scottish Farmer should not be publishing such rubbish, especially as there is a vast amount of research proving that Warnock’s issues are unfounded.

      Warnock’s dislike for the White-tailed Eagle goes back a long way, and in no way is it connected to the compensation scheme coming to a close. The following link, from The Herald in 1998, proves a long-standing dislike or hatred, based on hearsay, propaganda and myth, and without any clear scientific reasoning or understanding. Quite frankly, if the NFU are to be seen a forward-looking organisation, the man should be removed from his post, and never again be allowed to have any standing in the NFU.

  19. Grouseman, the RSPB were not taking golden eagle chicks from Scotland & exporting them to Ireland. The young eagles were located by volunteers in their own time & then collected by the Irish Golden Eagle Trust wiho also covered the costs. Yes subsequently some of those golden eagles have been poisoned over there, but some have settled & bred, whereas if they had been left to fledge naturally in Scotland they would have almost certainly have been killed by the criminals who operate. on Scotland’s grouse moors.

    1. The projects were supported by the RSPB and also helped organise the relocation licences so potato potato really. I wonder if you can tell me what percentage has settled and established themselves in Ireland compared to what was relocated. I don’t think you will find it’s overly high!

      1. Even if only a few have settled and established themselves, that is far better than as it was before. If it is not “overly high” then that is an indictment of the farming community and the criminals within. As I stated above, they should have the full force of the law bought down on them to protect both the eagles and the vast majority of the public who wish to see them flourish.

  20. Just a few pairs Grouseman, but its a start. Unlike the shooting industry over here where millions of alien pheasants & red-legged partridges are released each year, decade after decade, the Irish environmentalists had to make do with a few golden eagles. To meet the criteria young eagles could only be taken from nests with 2 young. For example one year from a site on Skye with 2 young, one of these was donated to Ireland. The following year the site was re-visited but unfortunately there was on one young so it had to be left to fledge naturally, though not before it was ringed. Unfortunately this youngster flew east where it was found killed on a grouse moor by one of your criminal cronies.

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