Review looks at progress helping farmers and crofters deal with sea eagle impact - Nature Scot

White-tailed eagle - November 2020 - credit Rae McKenzie-NatureScot
White-tailed eagle - November 2020 - credit Rae McKenzie-NatureScot

Issued on behalf of the Sea Eagle National Stakeholder Panel

A review of the White-tailed Eagle Action Plan by key stakeholders has looked at the progress made and developed new recommendations to help farmers and crofters deal with the impact of sea eagles on their livestock.

These recommendations will be included in an extension to the plan over the next three years. The report is available on the NatureScot website.

From 2017, the Sea Eagle Management Scheme has involved 164 holdings, covering 156,489 hectares and 71,516 breeding ewes. The scheme budget, funded by NatureScot, has increased from £72,000 in 2015 to £225,000 in 2020.

Stakeholders have worked closely with individual farmers and crofters on ‘monitor farms’ to test different management techniques and develop a toolbox of measures, aimed at reducing the impacts sea eagles can have on hill sheep flocks. These included diversionary feeding, scaring devices and licenced manipulation of nest sites outside of the breeding season. The work had mixed results in terms of reducing impacts.

To better understand the scale of sea eagle interactions with sheep, observers spent a significant amount of time on the hill; however, there were few observations of direct interactions, as it is possible that the presence of observers, on open hillsides, deters sea eagle activity. But NatureScot has collected a significant body of circumstantial evidence through work with individual farmers and crofters which points to significant impacts in some areas.

New ideas on improving habitat to support natural prey species will be explored. The scheme may also include licenced activities to reduce serious agricultural damage in situations where all other options have been unsuccessful.

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Posted On: 08/01/2021

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