Hunting fears as rare golden eagles vanish in Scotland’s ‘Bermuda Triangle’

‘Highly suspicious’ disappearance of prized raptors prompts new legal measures

Several rare and highly-prized golden eagles have vanished in Scotland’s avian “Bermuda triangle” amid fears that they are being systematically hunted.

A fifth eagle disappeared without a trace in Cairnghorm National Park last month, a 100 square kilometre area between Moray and Aberdeenshire that has drawn comparisons with the Caribbean island for the regular disappearance of birds.

Angus, the latest victim of the unexplained phenomenon, was fitted with a satellite tracer that was last used to locate the eagle on 13 May.

The head of investigations for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland (RSPB), Ian Thomson, told a local paper: "It's becoming a bit of a Bermuda Triangle. These birds are disappearing as they travel around.

“It's exceedingly disappointing that they are disappearing so young in their lives before having the opportunity to breed. There have been proven cases of deliberate killing of birds in this area which makes it highly suspicious.

Four other birds of prey have gone missing in the last three years, beginning with a formerly-endangered white tailed eagle in 2010. More recently, three of the golden variety have vanished from the same nesting area, one of which was found to have died from illegal poisoning.

"Several birds have disappeared completely without trace in an area where there has been confirmed poisoning, Mr Thomson added. “It is of great concern. We have great legislation protecting these birds in this country but people continue to target them in a complete disregard of the law."

The news comes during announcements by the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) that its members have the knowledge to boost conservation efforts in an attempt to overcome accusations that land-owners regularly persecute the wild birds.

The association has recently expelled four members for wildlife offences, but Chairman Alex Hogg said the good work completed by many grouse managers was being "overlooked".

"The conservation work done by many of our members in this area is forgotten because of the actions of a few. They are willing to assist wider eagle conservation and have skills to be an asset," he said. "As well as educating, we have expelled members found to commit wrong-doing and where conflicts arise, as they will, we advocate lawful solutions.

Earlier this week, the Scottish government announced a series of policies designed to crackdown on offences against birds of prey. Prosecutors in the wildlife and environmental crime unit have been ordered to work with Scottish police and Scottish Natural Heritage has been asked to examine if general licences for trapping and shooting wild birds could be restricted.

A special group will also be established to review how wildlife crimes are treated within the legal system. It will examine whether the penalties imposed are tough enough to protect species including the golden eagle, hen harriers and red kites.

Environment minister Paul Wheelhouse, who unveiled the initiative, said: "Outdated, barbaric and criminal practices put at risk some of our most magnificent wildlife and have horrified a wide range of people across Scotland and those who love Scotland,

"Through these new measures, I am keen to maximise the opportunity for offences to be detected and offenders to be tracked down. I am determined to stop illegal persecution of raptors that continues to blight the Scottish countryside."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Housekeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is the holding company of an expa...

Recruitment Genius: Network Engineer

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Setup, configure, troubleshoot,...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - Financial Services - OTE £65,000

£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Underwriter

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future