Golden eagle adult flying in the Cairngorms

Golden eagle persecution

Research shows a strong association between poisoning of golden eagles and land managed for driven grouse shooting.

Golden eagle

As a breeding bird, this species is absent from suitable habitat in several areas where grouse moors are the predominant form of land management.

Research by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) shows a strong association between poisoning of golden eagles and land managed for driven grouse shooting.

In July 2008 SNH published 'A Conservation Framework for Golden Eagles: implications for their conservation and management in Scotland'. The report found that only three of 16 regions, all in western Scotland, had stable or expanding, golden eagle populations occupying most of the existing suitable habitat.

The most serious problems were in the central and eastern Highlands, where less than half of all known territories were occupied, and existing populations continued to decline. Based on the productivity of the remaining pairs, the populations in these regions should be expanding markedly.

The report looked at 10 factors ranging from grazing by sheep to wind farms. Results showed illegal persecution to be the most severe constraint and incidents were more common where grouse moor management predominated.

A report was published by the Scottish Government in May 2017, prompted by the regular disappearance of satellite-tagged eagles in the Monadhliath mountains. It revealed that, of the 131 young eagles tracked over 12 years, a third (41) have disappeared – presumably died – under suspicious circumstances significantly connected with contemporaneous records of illegal persecution. Read more here.