Press release from Edinburgh Green Party:
Edinburgh Green councillors have called on the City Council to take action following the suspicious disappearance of Fred the Golden Eagle from the Pentlands in January. The council’s environment committee will consider a motion on Thursday 1 March from Green councillor Chas Booth to raise the issue with the Scottish Government. The motion also urges the Pentland Hills Regional Park to write to landowners in the area urging them to report suspicious activity to the police.
Chas Booth, Green councillor for Leith, and a member of the council’s environment committee, said,
“I was walking with my family just a few fields away from Fred’s last GPS location near Currie the day before his disappearance was made public. It is heart-breaking to think that, had it not been for his suspicious disappearance, my children might have witnessed this spectacular bird soaring over the Pentlands. And it appears no other Edinburgh resident will witness that amazing sight either, at least in the short term.
“So I would encourage anyone who has any knowledge of the disappearance of this magnificent bird to contact Police Scotland on 101 or the RSPB raptor persecution hotline on on 0300 999 0101, to ensure that, if a wildlife crime has indeed happened in this case, that those responsible can be brought to justice.
“And I hope the council will approve my motion on Thursday, to send a clear message that wildlife crime will not be tolerated in Scotland’s capital. I also urge the Pentlands Hills Regional Park authority to engage with landowners in the area to encourage them to report any suspicious behaviour to police.”
The full text of the motion to be considered by the council’s environment committee is below:
City of Edinburgh Council
Transport and Environment Committee
1 March 2018
Green Motion – Suspicious disappearance of ‘Fred’ the Golden Eagle in Pentland Hills
- Notes with grave concern reports of the suspicious disappearance of ‘Fred’ the Golden Eagle, who hatched from a nest in the Scottish Borders to the only breeding pair of Golden Eagles in the region, and who, according to his satellite tag, was in woodland near Currie in January 2018, within the Edinburgh Council boundary; 2.
- Notes that Fred’s satellite tracker is reported to have suddenly and inexplicably stopped transmitting on 21 January 2018, and then to have mysteriously started transmitting again on 24 January 2018, with a GPS location some 15 miles offshore of St Andrews, Fife.
- Further notes that RSPB Scotland and Raptor Persecution UK regard Fred’s disappearance as highly suspicious and believe it is likely that he has been illegally killed;
- Notes that the Golden Eagle is a magnificent and majestic bird and one of the largest birds of prey in the British Isles, notes that it is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, but notes that nonetheless it has been illegally killed and persecuted in the past;
- Notes that a Scottish Government-commissioned study in 2017 found that 41 of 131 satellite-tagged Golden Eagles had disappeared in suspicious circumstances, most of them at or near to managed grouse moors;
- Notes that the Scottish Government have established a working group with a view to establishing a licensing regime for game-shooting estates;
- Agrees that the suspicious disappearance of Fred is deeply regrettable, and urges anyone with any knowledge of this incident, or any other incidents of possible wildlife crime, to contact Police Scotland on 101 or alternatively call the RSPB’s new confidential raptor crime hotline on 0300 999 0101;
- Agrees that the Council Leader will write to the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment expressing the council’s grave concern at this incident, asking her to outline a timetable for the introduction of the licensing of game-shooting estates; offering the council’s cooperation with any such licensing regime, and offering the council’s support for consideration of stiffer penalties for wildlife crime;
- Agrees to refer the matter to the Pentland Hills Regional Park Joint Committee, to ask them to consider writing to landowners in the region highlighting this incident and encouraging them to report any suspicious activity to Police Scotland or the RSPB.
Moved by Cllr Chas Booth
[Photo of Fred by Ruth Tingay]