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Young Golden Eagles Boost Population

Golden eagles are without doubt one of Britain’s most majestic and awe-inspiring birds. A long-awaited project in the south of Scotland is now underway, to help boost the population. In the coming years, if this project succeeds, walkers will have an increased chance of seeing these glorious birds in south Scotland and perhaps even across the border in England or Wales…

 

eagle taggingIn early August 2018, three young golden eagles were released into the wild at a secret location in the Moffat Hills. They were moved from nests in the Highlands, where the majority of the UK’s 500 breeding pairs of birds are usually found. This release was the first stage in a translocation project, known as the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project, which hopes to increase the number of golden eagles in parts of the UK where they have become an increasingly rare sight. Fewer than five breeding pairs exist in the south of Scotland with none in England or Wales. It is now hoped that people living in or visiting the south of Scotland, northern England and even Wales will have the chance to see this iconic bird in the coming months and years.

The three young birds were only handled twice: once when they were removed under licence from their nests and placed in secure aviaries for a two-month period; and then once again when they were checked over and fitted with a satellite transmitter tag before being released in the Moffat Hills. The chicks were adopted and named by local schoolchildren as Edward, Beaky and Emily. Camera traps close to the release site have already captured images of the three young eagles thriving in their new surroundings.

eagle camera trapThe project team is now calling on volunteers across the south of Scotland to support project members in monitoring and recording sightings of the birds. Young eagles are heavily persecuted, through poisoning or shooting, but the project team has reassured itself that persecution is not an issue in the south of Scotland.

This is only the first phase of the ambitious project. For the next four years, the scheme will bring up to 10 young eagles south. Their range could take them from the hills of southern Scotland to the Lake District or even as far as Wales and the satellite tags will ensure their journeys and well-being can be monitored by the team.

Follow the progress of the eagles at https://www.goldeneaglessouthofscotland.co.uk

4 September 2018

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