Highlands & Islands

Rise in golden eagles where eight birds disappeared

Golden eagle Image copyright PA

Numbers of golden eagles have increased in an area of the Highlands where eight of the birds were believed to have been killed illegally.

The satellite-tagged raptors disappeared over a period of less than five years in the Monadhliath mountains, south of Inverness.

It led to the Scottish government ordering a review of tagging data to check for other suspicious deaths.

A group set up as part of the review said eagle numbers rose this year.

Highland Partnership Against Wildlife Crime North Monadhliaths Subgroup said reports from RSPB Scotland and the Highland Raptor Study Group suggested numbers of the birds in the area had increased.

There had also been "positive sightings" of goshawks, buzzards, ospreys and red kites, the subgroup said.

However, in one location, Moy Forest, few buzzards and no goshawks hatched at nest sites.

'Hugely encouraging'

Ian Wilson, of NFU Scotland and the wildlife partnership, said: "It is positive in that we have a recorded increase in golden eagles in the area and also other high profile species.

"But it is also disappointing that the area of the Moy Forest has not been as successful as we had hoped."

The eighth of the satellite-tagged golden eagles vanished last year.

RSPB Scotland believes the birds were killed illegally around grouse moors, and their satellite tracking tags destroyed.

The Scottish Moorland Group, which represents landowners, has welcomed the subgroup's report.

A spokeswoman said: "This report from the Partnership Against Wildlife Crime in the north Monadhliaths is hugely encouraging.

"This shows that golden eagles and other raptors are welcome in areas where grouse moors operate.

"The concerted efforts of grouse moor owners to protect birds of prey are continuing."

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