Fred the golden eagle: police investigation still very much ongoing

The criminals within the game-shooting industry are deeply concerned about what might be revealed by the police investigation in to the highly suspicious disappearance of our satellite-tagged golden eagle Fred.

The following was posted on the BASC facebook page today and has since been doing the rounds on social media, accompanied by various defamatory accusations that we (RPUK, Chris Packham, and Ian Thomson from RSPB) are all “compulsive liars”:


The police have been given the new data we were able to retrieve from Fred’s tag, which very much support our earlier suspicion that Fred was a victim of illegal persecution.

Rest assured, we WILL be publishing these data in due course.

For now, we have to let the police do their job.

But thanks, game-shooting criminals, for keeping Fred’s highly suspicious disappearance in the news. Much appreciated.

48 thoughts on “Fred the golden eagle: police investigation still very much ongoing”

  1. They’re obviously worried and are desperately trying to find out just how much you know. Let them sweat!

    1. If he had been blown out to sea, the tag would not have suddenly stopped working by a grouse moor, and then suddenly start working again once he was out at sea. The tag would have continued transmitting over those 3 days during which the tag was seemingly off-line displaying the exact route he had flown/ been blown.
      RPUK gave the following info in a previous blog:
      “our tags are providing positional data around the clock, sometimes at just a few minutes’ interval, so we know EXACTLY where our eagles are at all hours of the day, and night.”

    2. You probably know this but just to be sure that red line joining the land marks to the sea marks is not a real movement and not even close as it was a ‘journey’ which took several days. That line is just joining the dots. The further those dots are separated by time the less accurate they are. If those dots were every 1 second then they would be ‘real’.
      What i find pretty scary is that who ever shot this bird (which seems extremely likely) they had already figured out how to disguise the signal. They were incredibly well prepared. How many people know how to block a signal? I certainly didn’t know.
      If they hadn’t blocked the signal we would be able see the route they drove in the car to dump the box or whatever it was in, into the sea or a via a boat to the sea. (Can a drone carry the weight of a transmitter?)

      1. Your quite right to point out the line does not show movement, only the shortest route between GPS recordings.

        They probably put it in a Faraday cage, they are used to block out electromagnetic radiation (which includes GPS signals). Any sort of metal container can act as one.

        Yes a drone can carry a transmitter, but it would still transmit en-route.

        1. I was thinking of a drone carrying the transmitter wrapped in something, (e.g. tin foil?).
          But really who would go to all that trouble when they can just dump it into the sea.
          RPUK has me on the hook with this new data.

          1. But surely it would be possible merely to smash/burn the transmitter – why go to the bother of dumping it out at sea? It’s not like it was a planes black box designed to withstand such abuse – or is it? Pip.

            1. If the transmitter was destroyed, it’s final location would be logged. So, whoever is behind this, is stupid enough to try and fool people that the bird was somehow naturally lost at sea.

            2. Pip, if i could understand what goes on inside the head of these killers i might be able to answer you.
              Maybe they weren’t sure about what could be tracked so just wrapped it in aluminium foil and dumped it in the sea. If the sea was on their way home it would be just as easy as smashing it. Then later the foil came off and it started transmitting again.
              I agree though that what ever happened was probably simple. It looks like RPUK will reveal more details later which might shed light on this.
              It is not as though moving a shot bird hasn’t been done before. It happened a few years ago with another Golden Eagle (in Aberdeenshire or Angus as i recall).

              1. Yeah – it all sounds a bit iffy – a car would act as a “Faraday cage” so no data would be received, but chucking it in the sea from a beach would still give it a long travel to the Inchcape rock area. Without a corpse attached and the aerial snipped off perhaps it was thrown (or placed) onto a boat and subsequently overboard – in any event we may never know the wherefores even if we do know the whys. Regrettably I see very little chance of the culprits being caught – despite all the technical wizardry I doubt there is the will either politically or the financial “value for money” desire to pursue this to what we would consider to be an adequate conclusion.
                The long and the short of it is that despite tagging, data logging etc, etc a bird can still disappear and that’s the end of it, and whoever was responsible is laughing up their sleeve – what a depressing thought. Pip

                1. It sounds like this particular story is far from over.
                  I would have thought the transmitter could drift a long way in 3 days if it was still attached to the bird. Maybe it was dumped in the sea close to the last signals.
                  The great thing about tags is that even if the culprits aren’t caught, which as you say, is highly unlikely, it all adds to the inevitable proof of rampant raptor crime, where it is happening and what it is associated with.
                  I would bet that there will be a ‘shed load’ of similar stories this year.
                  It is terrible but this is in my opinion the only hope for an outright ban of DGS.

  2. It is incredible that these criminally intent folk will do and say anything, to get the probing eye distracted.

    They persist in telling the lies to prove how good and law abiding they are, on the basis of, he/she who shouts loudest will be heard (and believed).

    The law will catch up with them.

    Showing how indignant they are, that the plebs are coming out with such accusations, without foundation?

    Keep on shouting but leave our raptors to live.


  3. “Bell Point”? The first rule of bullshitting about lighthouses is get the name correct.
    This exhibits the all-too-common poor grammar and command of the English language so typical of the shooting fraternity and their plumbism. Obviously rattled.

  4. I’ve just been on the RSPB Scotland FB page and there’s a nasty remark about Ian Thomson and Chris P on it (RSPB reviews), plus accusation there was no search for Fred in the sea – did my best to answer back, gut instinct is that you fight back every time you can if they go uncontested others think they are telling the truth. They are absolutely unbelievable will just say something they want to be true i.e there are more hen harriers on grouse moors than on RSPB reserves again and again and again. On the GWCT FB page there was a post about black rats being cleared from the Shiant Isles, a commentator accused the bodies involved, the RSPB was prominent, of preferring the commoner puffin over the nearly extinct Rattus rattus! This crap came up when the plan to clear the rats was first announced among certain people familiar to this site, now the gullible have taken it up. The shite throwing at the RSPB is incessant. I think safe, legal actions on grouse shooting days needs to be on the cards now.

  5. #FredisDead “Long live Fred” the truth about his demise will be enlightening for us all. I do hope that the Scot Government will take full consideration of the individuals and organisations involved in the loss of this golden eagle and the many other eagles that have been lost in suspicious circumstances throughout Scotland.

  6. They are a bunch of bastards. I’ve been battling with them on FB most of the weekend. Waste of time right enough but it sickens me thinking that these morons are up in our uplands doing Christ knows what (well, actually – we know) to our raptors and other wildlife.

    1. Yes, like I said recently in a different blog, if DGS was banned tomorrow we’d still be stuck with this lot!

      1. If the police looked at social media and saw some of the things people who almost certainly have firearm licenses say they would be seriously concerned. The worst one I saw was some clown who said ‘at least those Syrian refugees would be good for target practice down at the rifle range’ – if someone with a gun ‘jokes’ like that shouldn’t the precautionary principle hold sway with ANY utterance about using guns on people, and they get at least a serious grilling from the local constabulary? Notice also how the SGA tried to put a spanner in the works re licensing for air guns in spite of the fact they have been responsible for human fatalities as well as widespread vandalism, and the persecution of wildlife and domestic animals. Aye the wonderful SGA that managed to get tail docking back in Scotland, that said sea eagles could be a threat to small children, but are happy with road users being killed by a ludicrously excessive red deer population…they must be so, so proud.

    1. Hi. This was not on BASC’s website and was not an official comment from BASC or anyone who works for BASC.

  7. Two thoughts come to mind. Why would any bird, eagle or otherwise, circle around a visible land mass then fall into the sea exhausted, when it could just land, wait out the “storm”, and rest?

    It is possible I got it wrong somehow, I’m not great at doing searches, but I looked at the screenshot given, of a forecast on Tuesday 23rd Jan, suggesting stormy weather. Then I checked the weather report of that week for the Edinburgh area. Sure enough, the winds picked up for a few hours, peaking at the time given on the screenshot. For most of the rest of that whole week, winds varied from 5 to 15 mph. I would welcome somebody better at doing searches to double check, and correct me if I am wrong there, but what I saw is more like how I remember the weather.

    To confirm, it should also be possible to check to see whether the Forth Road Bridge (which I think might have been temporarily back in use then), or the Queensferry Crossing had any kind of restriction which you would expect to be in place for this windy/stormy weather.

    1. Chris, the wind recorded in Edinburgh peaked at 36 mph (or 31 kts) at 1250 on the 24th January and thereafter abated as the afternoon progressed. In aviation/nautical circles it would have warranted just a strong wind warning and is hardly unusual for Scotland at anytime of year. The gale force winds forecast in the aftermath of storm Georgina had little effect on the East coast.

      As for Bell Rock, it is significantly further north of the last GPS positions recorded on the screenshot map. This was yet another ‘red-herring’ circulating within the usual FB crowd.

      1. Thank you Tim for double checking and confirming what I found. The truth was that the whole week was relatively calm, apart from those few hours, which was used to falsely claim that stormy weather just blew Fred out to sea. It ought to be obvious to anyone that it would take a great deal more than that to trouble a healthy young golden eagle. I checked this initially because I live about 40 miles south of Edinburgh, and my memory was that there was no stormy weather then.

        This just shows how easy it is to construct a false story which has just enough “proof” for it to be believed. The frustrating thing is that I replied to a friend who had shared this nonsense, suggesting he check weather reports himself ; he didn’t seem that interested, preferring to believe what he had seen on social media, because it supported his dislike of Chris Packham.

    2. Golden Eagles are highly adapted to deal with Scottish weather. They breed on cliffs exposed to winds much stronger than that and in freezing weather.They don’t have to eat every day so can just wait it out and will also have nearby stashes to go to as they don’t have large territories. Admittedly a hungry juvenile might be more susceptible but if there were strong winds it just wouldn’t fly out to sea. If you don’t believe me listen to the experts, e.g. Ian Thomson. More importantly there is the highly suspicious missing data.
      If juveniles couldn’t deal with 36mph winds (a mild gale) the species could not have survived in Scotland.

        1. True, my mistake Chris.
          I didn’t realise you were referring solely to the BASC post.
          I was concentrating on the weather aspect as i considered the BASC post obvious nonsense. It took 3 days for the eagle to get from inland to that islet, with no transmission points in between. It was obviously trolling.
          Some other posters are still doubtful of how highly suspicious all this is, so although i was not answering you properly in context maybe it will inform someone new-comer who may think the BASC poster has a point.

  8. The truth will out, tags cannot lie. Let the facts speak for themselves & those that are guilty of Fred’s demise meet their just deserts!!!

  9. So, who wrote this post on the BASC site? I would have thought that this could possibly be an attempt to pervert the course of justice? Worth following up in my view – at the very least an official complaint to the police.

  10. I have great faith in RPUK et al ,but a great deal less in the police . You better have something really explosive up your sleeve or they will have the mother of all field days.

  11. This is not an official BASC Facebook group. This thread does not represent the position of BASC and does not represent our views. The group is not constantly monitored by admins.

    In the description of this group, we clearly state that we expect reasonable standards of conduct and we warn that failure to do so will result in comments and threads being deleted and users banned.

    In this case, the original post lacks any supporting evidence and its content could be considered libelous and, as a result, this thread will now be deleted.

            1. It’s a line from the brilliant Father Ted. If you’ve not seen it, make an effort to. Comedy gold imho and some welcome respite from raptor persecution.

    1. But the damage is done with the rumour spreading amongst believers, so now you can pull the thread. Job finished.

    2. Gary, I was not referring just to this post. What I was referring to was a sharing of a report from somewhere in the media I saw on facebook, which referenced comments from Bert Burnett, stating that Scotland was being battered by storms, and showing a screenshot of a forecast of a very brief period during that week, where winds picked up to peak at 36mph. This misinformation was then picked up and widely shared, so to many it became the truth. Deleting such comments, whilst laudable, is far too little, and far too late.

  12. The main point is simple. According to this, the BASC are claiming that the RSPB has confirmed this very unlikely hypothesis. If the BASC are taking responsibility for this claim, then either they must be able to produce evidence that the RSPB confirmed their hypothesis, or they are making dishonest claims to mislead the public, and we all know what the simple term is for this.

  13. Hoisted by their own petard.
    Keep up the good work Chris Packham and all Conservation Organisations that put Fact before Fake.

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