Police acknowledge golden eagle Fred’s disappearance is highly suspicious

Two weeks ago we blogged about a motion raised by Edinburgh Councillor Chas Booth (Scottish Greens) calling on Edinburgh City Council to take action in response to the highly suspicious disapearance of golden eagle Fred in the Pentland Hills (see here).

Last week we blogged about an attempt by Tim (Kim) Baynes, Director of the Scottish Moorland Group (part of Scottish Land & Estates) to downplay the suspicious circumstances of Fred’s disappearance and to derail Cllr Booth’s motion (see here).

Cllr Booth’s motion was due to be heard by Edinburgh City Council’s Transport & Environment Committee on 1st March 2018 but the meeting was postponed due to the snow.

The meeting was rescheduled and took place yesterday.

Prior to the meeting, Tim (Kim) Baynes sent another letter to the Committee, again attempting to derail the motion, as follows:

This letter, implying (incorrectly) that there is no evidence of criminal activity in relation to Fred’s disappearance, prompted Conservative councillor Nick Cook to call for ‘no action’ on the motion.

However, Cllr Booth sent around an email he’d received from Police Scotland that said they were “happy with the wording” of his motion (i.e. that Fred’s disappearance was indeed highly suspicious) and Cllr Booth argued that the opinion of Police Scotland held far greater weight than the opinion of Scottish Land & Estates.

Cllr Booth further argued that rather than delaying the motion until the police investigation had ended, the timing of the motion was even more pertinent now, in that one of the motion’s statements included referring 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.

The Committee voted on the motion and despite three Conservative councillors voting against it, the motion was carried by 8 votes to 3.

Well done and thank you, Cllr Chas Booth.

Here’s the motion that was carried:

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.  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, Seconded by Cllr Steve Burgess (Scottish Greens).

15 thoughts on “Police acknowledge golden eagle Fred’s disappearance is highly suspicious”

  1. It is noticeable that the Green Party are prepared to step fully up to the mark, with other parties (other than the Conservatives) backing them but not pushing much harder. My experience is that SNP and Liberal politicians are understanding and willing to help.
    I’d very much like them to be more aggressive in this matter.
    We need our politicians in the Scottish Parliament to agitate to change Laws to show their feelings about the disgraceful persecution going on using public money to accomplish it.

  2. Well done Police Scotland. And well done the Committee members who didn’t play along.

    The letter seems to row back on the original point by point rebuttal, until the final paragraph, where it changes into a veiled threat to the future of the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project. Hopefully, when the police investigation is complete we’ll be abe to throw these letters back at them to show that they have no place being involved in the project at all. I’m sure there are better ways to build relationships with landowners than having to go through a political lobby group.

    1. Well said, Chris. Why would SL&E ‘be concerned that eagle conservation would be undermined by any suggestion that Fred’s death was a result of a crime’? That final sentence in Mr Baynes’ letter only makes sense when interpreted as a threat. If anything, anyone professing the smallest interest in eagle conservation should want to redouble their efforts.

  3. Great to see some positive action and well done to Councillior Booth for telling Baynes and the SLE where to get off.

  4. Yes very well done Chas and thanks! Showed great fortitude. How fecken predictable and pathetic that the three votes against the motion came from Tories, how long is it going to take them to realize their automatic support of anything huntin, fishin, shootin is going to drive a wedge between them and the public, the lot behind raptor crime are no better than the creeps who support fox hunting and their terrier men lackeys.

    1. Tory MSP’s are a disgrace , just have a look at their latest voting record, mind you why would you be surprised when they have the likes of Sir Edward Brian Stanford Mountain 4th Baronet of Oare Manor and Brendon in their ranks, bet he has a pretty neutral opinion regarding land ownership and shooting . Aye right.

      1. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I can’t resist. A while ago they had one of these parliamentary reviews/hearings thingies about the numbers of red deer in Scotland – is it good or bad? Of course a Tory MSP for the Highlands starts by telling the committee that the extra large numbers of deer aren’t a danger on the road you just have to drive carefully (the deer must know the green cross code obviously) and as far as the grazed to death hills are concerned ‘my friends and I don’t want to have our view spoiled and have to deal with all those ticks, we want to see taiga not tundra!’. The total clot in trying to be clever got the words taiga and tundra mixed up in his dramatic final flourish – comedy gold if seen first hand I’m sure. This idiocy is pretty standard with tory politicians, so much of it at the parliamentary ‘debate’ Mark Avery’s petition got, conservative MPs who said they didn’t go grouse shooting, but knew how good grouse moors are for biodiversity somehow.

  5. Playing with words. It is highly suspicious, but there is no direct evidence of a crime. A high degree of circumstantial evidence, but none that actually confirms Fred was killed.

  6. Once again the Greens are to the fore. A big well done. The Conservatives are stuck in a time warp, preferring to ignore reality and completely out of touch with public opinion.

  7. Those that seek to deny are being well found out.
    The Scottish Governments research into satellite tags highlights there is no reason other than persecution that is causing tags to suddenly stop with no malfunction.

    The attitude of Baynes and others not only is unhelpful but could also make matters worse. Those that are committing these crimes will continue to do so using the lies and smokescreen.

    A good example of why this industry cannot be trusted to self regulate.

    Honest and honourable senior managers in other industry would not behave in this way.

    Landowners and persons within the sporting industry that are operating within the law must be increasingly frustrated by Baynes and the like.

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