Lamb-eating sea eagles upset Scottish farmers

By | September 24, 2008

Sheep farmers in remote northwest Scotland are furious about a sea eagle reintroduction programme, saying the huge birds of prey are damaging their livelihoods by killing 200 lambs in the past year.

The Scottish Crofting Foundation said some crofts, small farms producing mainly lamb or beef, had seen lamb numbers fall over the past five years because of the sea eagles’ diet.

“It’s come to the stage now that we have lost, in the whole peninsula, around 200 lambs and we believe this is solely due to the sea eagles,” William Fraser, chairman of the Gairloch and Poolewe branch of the Crofting Foundation, told Reuters.

“In a few years time there’ll be no sheep left on the hills,” said Fraser, who owns a 4-acre croft with 150 sheep.

Conservation groups began gradually reintroducing sea eagles to parts of Scotland from 1975. Britain’s largest bird of prey had become extinct there in the early 20th century.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) says the programme is an outstanding conservation success story. Three breeding pairs live in Gairloch, where Fraser has his farm.

Fraser said the sea eagles — which have a wing span of eight feet and can weigh eight kgs (18 lbs) when fully grown — will snatch even year-old sheep. – reuters

The Royal Society for the Protection of Sheep (RSPS), however, officially frowned upon the current situation.

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