Edinburgh Council called to action following suspicious disappearance of golden eagle Fred

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


  1. 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.
  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.
  3. 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;
  4. 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;
  5. 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;
  6. Notes that the Scottish Government have established a working group with a view to establishing a licensing regime for game-shooting estates;
  7. 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;
  8. 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;
  9. 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]

13 thoughts on “Edinburgh Council called to action following suspicious disappearance of golden eagle Fred”

  1. I don’t think asking the landowners to report, “any suspicious activity”, will work. After all what is suspicious about a raptor killing?

    The landowners and their skivvies (gamekeepers) have one agenda regarding raptors, EXTERMINATE.

    We have a long way to go and I believe that real pursuance, justice and penalties that really count, will be the only way to eradicate raptor persecution.


  2. Great to hear Chas Booth speaking up, but in general the Scottish Greens need to be proactive on the ‘sporting’ estates issue rather than reactive. Between driven grouse shooting and open hill deer stalking Scotland is perhaps THE country that suffers more than any other from recreational shooting, yet the Scottish Greens in spite of the presence of Andy Wightman as a MSP have yet to put forward a coherent policy and strategy for dealing with the vast tracts of our country that are ecologically and economically barren because of it. I was very glad to see they’ve started to campaign to tighten up the laws on fox ‘control’ in Scotland that were being blatantly abused to allow traditional fox hunting on the fly, but the fact they did this without doing so on the estates shows there’s an inconsistency, and even flavour of the month approach that is worrying. When I contacted one of our current Green MSPs (before he was elected) to say we should have a strong campaign against bad estates I was told ‘we have a good land reform policy anyway’ – yeah land reform and land management same thing eh?

    And Friends of the Earth Scotland? If it’s not about carbon emissions you’re stuffed, you’re expected to go away and do your own thing. I remember the days when it at least kept issues such as loss of rainforests, reducing waste, green consumerism, salmon farms, and even bird of prey persecution in the spotlight. Well that’s all gone along with a considerable part of its membership. It’s extremely poor indeed when the League Against Cruel Sports is doing more to highlight the serious damage to land and wildlife caused by an effing hobby than the national FoE office. RPUK, people like Chris Packham and Mark Avery, raptor workers and anti cruelty organisations are having to do so much more because of those who have a direct responsibility are choosing to ignore it. It’s all the more remarkable what has been achieved by those that have stuck their neck out, and the grief they’ve got for it, but that makes the spinelessness of others even more infuriating.

  3. Despicable, and deplorable state of affairs. Hope relevant authorities take it seriously and DO SOMETHING. Loads of people so support raptor protection. Any guilty xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx should be held to account and examples should be made. xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

  4. i may have missed this, but I would have thought that the person who owns the land where the eagle ‘disappeared’ would be a fairly central part of this story. And why that isnt being highlighted. If it was the Council I would understand that, but hope they would be making their anger clear.
    Finally I dont agree with the comments above about the Scottish Greens ( which i was briefly a member of). They are a young and underresourced political party ( compared even with the RSPB) who have a consistent interest in land reform , and have managed to give resources to getting Andy Wightman into parliament. I am sure theyd be glad of that coherent strategy if you offered it to them..

    1. Yes you clearly didn’t understand the comments re the Scottish Greens, but I have been a member of the SGP for a bit more than ‘briefly’ so I’ll try to help you here. They already had a coherent policy on rural Scotland way back in 1989 which they seem to have mislaid – the SGP isn’t that young. Myself and Peter McColl tried to get a motion on tackling bad ‘sporting’ estates put forward at the AGM in 2015, it didn’t even get put forward – I believe there was more support for getting transgender issues discussed than there was for the condition of millions of acres of rural Scotland. I have repeatedly contacted SGP MSPs on what’s happening with our wildlife, land and rural communities due to driven grouse shooting and open hill deer stalking (which in the case of the latter includes an increased number of serious and fatal road accidents due to collisions with deer, yes people are actually dying thanks to the estates). I have also tried to raise awareness within the SGP membership who often don’t have a very strong conservation or environmental background and have certainly done my best to get them behind the various petitions to ban driven grouse shooting. Incidentally some SGP branches and members in country areas also feel that the SGP is neglecting these issues, I’m not alone. I am sure that things would be a lot better if people didn’t make uninformed assumptions about people who have done a considerable amount of unpaid graft to make others do what they should be doing. Incidentally I am due to go through to Edinburgh this weekend to try and get the party to take ‘sporting’ estates more seriously – the sad loss of Fred may just have got them to sit up and notice at last..maybe. What have you done…..

  5. Congratulate this man on bringing it up with a City Council – we may all think this is a very old story but thats because we think about it every day..any newcomers to the debate, particularly our representatives should be warmly welcomed…and helped with info…

  6. I initially supported the idea of licencing red grouse shooting estates. I have now come to the opinion that red grouse shooting should be banned. I believe it is the only way to stop this appalling carnage. And they have the audacity to call it ‘sport’. Why should we be deprived of the pleasure of seeing raptors in our countryside -solely because some rich thug demands more quarry for his guns, to hell with them.

    1. I completely agree. They are trashing upland area ecological balance purely for their own indulgence and are powerful enough to be able to side step any licencing scheme in the same way they ignore any law that doesn’t suit them now.

    2. I am in agreement with a total ban on grouse shooting driven or walked. The same should apply to pheasant and partridge shooting where many millions of birds are bread in farm conditions only to be let out to be shot, for fun. They are sick folk that need to find something productive to do with their sad lives.

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