Scottish farmers calling for ‘action’ against white-tailed eagles

17 January 2014

The National Farmers Union (Scotland) is calling on the government to implement ‘control measures’ against reintroduced white-tailed eagles in western Scotland. They claim the sea eagle population is ‘out of control’ and is having a negative impact on sheep and other species such as golden eagles. The editor of The Scottish Farmer also suggests that the eagles might attack a small child; a now familiarly sensationalist claim, often rolled out for scaremongering purposes but with as much credibility as the notion that babies are delivered to parents by a stork. 

A recent scientific study has shown that sea eagles have a ‘minimal impact’ on lambs in the Gairloch area of western Scotland (the study was initiated in 2009 when farmers claimed that three eagle pairs had taken 200 lambs – see here).

Two further studies have shown that white-tailed eagles are not having any negative effect on golden eagles in western Scotland in terms of where they nest (see here) and what they eat (see here).

In 2010, a study was undertaken to estimate the economic benefits of sea eagle toursim on the Isle of Mull. The study found that up to £5 million of tourist spend every year is as a result of visitors coming to see the eagles, and that 110 eagle tourism-related jobs are supported each year (read the report here).