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?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Cleaner

£15000 - £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you've got first class custo...

Recruitment Genius: Mobile Applications Developer / Architect - iOS and Android

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a medium s...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Account Executive - £40K OTE

£11830 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in a friendly, sales ta...

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer

£15000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy