Golden eagles are soaring across southern skies again thanks to a ground-breaking conservation project. Using pioneering techniques, the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project has tripled the local population of this iconic bird of prey to the highest number recorded in the area for three centuries.
Golden eagles were once a common sight across the south of Scotland. However, over the last couple of centuries, the local population declined to as low as three breeding pairs, while completely disappearing further south in England and Wales.
The South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project secured National Lottery funding to reverse this through a series of pioneering translocations and community engagement, aiming to encourage up to 16 breeding pairs.
Working closely with raptor experts, ecologists, vets, estates, land managers and local communities, the project has more than tripled the population to around 39 - the highest number recorded for three centuries.
The project’s birds are all carefully satellite tagged, so the team can safely monitor them. Some have even travelled to Northumberland and the North Pennines, which is potentially significant for re-establishing golden eagles there too.
In March 2022, the project became the first in the UK to successfully translocate free-flying young golden eagles (aged between 6 months and 3 years) to boost a low population.
Over 15,000 community volunteers and project participants have supported the project through a wide range of tasks and initiatives.
Francesca Osowska, NatureScot’s Chief Executive, said: “This ground-breaking project has accomplished so much, and is globally inspirational given the plight of birds of prey. It’s wonderful to see successes like this, particularly now when it’s vital to tackle nature loss and climate change.”
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