Golden eagle south of Scotland population reaches 300 year high

Golden eagle numbers have reached a record high in the south of Scotland Credit: The South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project

The golden eagle population has reached a record high in the south of Scotland for the last 300 years.

There are currently 33 eagles in the area due to the work of the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project.

They have been able to translocate free-flying young golden eagles (aged between 6 months and 3 years) to boost the low population.

Translocating consists of collecting the birds at a much older age than usual and being released back into the wild as little as two days after being collected.

This means they need less looking after and can be released much quicker than if they were younger.

The project has managed to relocate seven golden eagles that came from the Outer Hebrides.

The eagles all have different names, with one being called Rowan Credit: The South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project

In the past the Project has focused on collecting much younger chicks (aged 6 to 8 weeks)directly from nest sites with twins, but the team has struggled to source a sufficient number of birds, particularly when Covid-19 restrictions were in place.

After research over welfare and ecological issues with an expert Scientific Advisory Panel, the Project identified a new research-based approach involving catching and moving free-flying young golden eagles from a naturally densely populated area.

The seven new arrivals have been named by a range of people such as school children andorganisations, with one called Rowan.

Dr Cat Barlow, Project Manager for the Project said: "This new novel-research licence has provided a significant boost in our efforts to ensure golden eagles truly flourish in southern skies.

"Though it is still early days, this is the first in the UK to trial this approach as part of raptor reinforcement. This could be a groundbreaking technique for the global conservation management of golden eagles and other raptors.

"We will continue to monitor these birds to see if they settle, thrive and breed in the southof Scotland, which will be the real measure of success."