Issued on behalf of the Sea Eagle National Stakeholder Panel. A key stakeholder review of the Sea Eagle Action Plan examined the progress made and developed new recommendations to help farmers and farmers deal with the effects of sea eagles on their livestock.
These recommendations will be included in an expansion of the plan over the next three years. The report is available on the NatureScot website.
As of 2017, the Sea Eagle Management Scheme has occupied 164 farms with an area of 156,489 hectares and 71,516 breeding sheep. The program budget, funded by NatureScot, has increased from £ 72,000 in 2015 to £ 225,000 in 2020.
The stakeholders have worked closely with individual farmers and farmers to test various management techniques and develop a range of measures to reduce the impact of sea eagles on flocks of sheep. This included distraction feeding, fear devices, and licensed manipulation of nesting sites outside of the breeding season. The work had mixed results in terms of impact reduction.
White-tailed eagle, Copyright David MacLeman, from the Surfbirds Galleries
To better understand the extent of the interaction between sea eagles and sheep, observers spent a lot of time on the hill. However, there have been few observations of direct interactions as it is possible that the presence of observers on open slopes could interfere with the activity of white-tailed eagles. However, through working with individual farmers and farmers, NatureScot has gathered numerous pieces of evidence that indicate significant effects in some areas.
New ideas for habitat improvement to support natural prey are explored. The system may also include licensed activities aimed at reducing serious agricultural damage in situations where all other options have not been successful.
Rae McKenzie, NatureScot’s Policy & Operations Manager, said:
“We recognize the serious concerns expressed by some farmers and crofters about the impact of sea eagles on their livestock and we are determined to continue to work closely with them to find solutions. The program is about finding a balance between husbandry and wildlife, and realizing the benefits each brings to us all. This is a great example of working with the National Farmers Union Scotland, Scottish Crofting Federation, RSPB Scotland, Forest Enterprise Scotland and others to address farmer and crofters problems while maintaining healthy populations of this spectacular species. “
Yvonne White of the Scottish Crofting Federation said, “Sea Eagle predators can have a significant financial and emotional impact on crofters. Regardless, the Scottish Crofting Federation is committed to working with NatureScot to find ways to mitigate these negative effects. “
Angus MacFadyen, Chair of the Environment and Land Use Committee of NFU Scotland, said: “The action plan has made progress in the first three years, but a significant number of farmers and crofters continue to see the presence of sea eagles (WTEs) on their flocks of sheep. We welcome the significant increase in funding since 2015 and the local collaboration by monitoring farm trials to reduce the impact of WTE on livestock. With 164 holdings now on the program, this reflects the recorded increase in the distribution and the number of these birds. Our recent member survey showed that unfortunately the majority of respondents disagreed that the current action plan had a significant impact on reducing WTE predation. Over the next three years, during which the Action Plan is currently being revised, NFU Scotland will work with the Partnership to ensure that the Action Plan significantly reduces the losses of some farmers and farmers. “
Read the full White-tailed Eagle Action Plan Review 2020 document.