THE SEA EAGLE MANAGEMENT PLAN – A SHAMBLES

We reported previously on the Sea Eagle Management Plan in Scotland and this is the latest update.

Sea-Eagle-with-chick

Instead of protecting the nests of the Sea-Eagle, Scottish Natural Heritage are issuing licenses to cut nesting trees down to prevent breeding taking place.

We understand that in Argyll, Forestry Commission Scotland felled nesting trees in two territories in December. At one of the territories the occupying pair predictably simply moved a short distance to another tree and started building a new nest – surprise, surprise!! Undaunted it now appears that FCS are going to cut down that nest – or may already have done so. Where is it all going to end? We predicted that this would happen so it’s no surprise that it did so. When will Scottish Natural Heritage decide to abandon such a crazy idea, a policy determined by them and carried out by FCS staff under a licence issued by them.

In early January the national media carried a story about the use of lasers to deter birds from predating lambs http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-42578354. This was amongst the deterrents to be used at lambing parks, others to include gas guns and “scary men” inflatable scarecrows. The only scary people here are SNH and many people saw the use of gas guns, and particularly lasers, as another half botched idea. It now appears that Ross Lilley of SNH who leads the initiative, and who was quoted in the media, has had his knuckles rapped. There was no consultation with his own Health and Safety Advisors who have now decided that it is inappropriate for lasers to be used. What message is that sending to all the wildlife criminals out there?

Food cache

 In Poland and the Czech Republic food caches are regarded as an appropriate method of preventing WTE predation upon lambs and other livestock. 

A stakeholders group was set up on Skye where several groups of crofters have complained about Sea Eagle predation of lambs and adult sheep. The meeting is chaired by a local representative of the National Farmers Union and membership is dominated by agricultural interests. Monitoring at two lambing sites on Skye last year produced no evidence of lamb predation. Despite this, and on hearing of events in Argyll, demands started on Skye in another area for the removal of a nesting tree in a particular woodland. A series of meetings were held (in secret) in Skye attended by SNH, RSPB, NFU, Crofters and those with responsibility for the woodland. The owners of the woodland were not FCS and were opposed to any nest tree felling. Had it been FCS, who knows, the nest tree might already have been felled. After several months of meetings with the forest owners resisting moves, and the local community becoming increasingly concerned about the plans, the crofters have now abandoned their demands. No thanks to SNH or RSPB and you can bet your bottom dollar that another crofting group will come along with similar demands.

The Sea Eagle Management Plan is not about the conservation of raptors and their habitats. On the contrary, as is evident from the Stakeholders Groups, it is about the protection of livestock and the use of means, under licence, which would otherwise be illegal. Using scaring techniques such as the “scary man” at lambing parks to deter sea eagles and possible predation, is probably acceptable. However, the use of deterrents at or near nests and especially the removal of tree nests cannot by any means be regarded as acceptable and defies all known science as the birds will simply move to a nearby site, and continue to feed over the same area. From a crofting and farming perspective it is only about making a case for more money when other subsidies have been removed. It is a political policy, simply invoked because of pressure on the Scottish Government from agricultural interests, and SNH and FCS as agencies funded by government, have had to toe the line. RSPB surprisingly, have added their support, but there is a history of this in Scotland and they are also dependant on SNH for many grants. That Raptor Groups in Scotland appear to have condoned the policy, when much of their monitoring data is being used to support it, is pretty inexcusable. Like RSPB however, raptor groups in Scotland receive grants from SNH and some raptor workers continue to be employed as contractors in this initiative. This appears to be a clear conflict of interests and a misuse of data by raptor workers, which should be clearly used for raptor conservation alone and not the protection of livestock and farming, already subsidised to the hilt by public money.

1 comment to THE SEA EAGLE MANAGEMENT PLAN – A SHAMBLES

  • I would like to see the full details, and reasoning,behind this plan including the raptor group’s apparent support for it.
    Lambs,even subsidised ones,must be protected,but is this really the best way?.