A collection of Perthshire grouse moors and farms has formed an alliance with a major conservation body to advance eagle conservation in an area of past alleged persecution.
The Tayside and Central Scotland Moorland Group (TCSMG) is teaming up with Wildland, the company established by Dane Anders Povlsen, the largest landowner in Scotland.
The intention is to fit a satellite tag to a golden eagle chick at an already identified nest site in the Strathbraan area and show its movements on an online app developed by Wildland.
The project will be a joint arrangement, aimed at learning more about eagle conservation in the surrounding glens.
In recent years, the region has been the focal point of high profile alleged golden eagle persecution incidents, with two eagle tags losing transmission on the same day in 2019.
At the time the local community and named estate contested the reports, and the legacy of the ensuing publicity still rankles within local land management circles.
The collaboration is a first in Scotland – an independent flagship conservation organisation cooperating on raptor monitoring with grouse moor interests.
“We are excited about this project,” said Alice Bugden, Coordinator of TCSMG. “This unique collaboration will hopefully allow us to get beyond some of the polarisation of recent times. There has been a lot of negative attention in recent years about alleged persecution of eagles. We are focused on positive action. It has been refreshing to liaise with Wildland, who have years of experience of tagging and recording raptor movements on their own holdings. Unlike some bodies who keep tagging work secret, Wildland are committed to transparency, and our community feels this is the way forward for raptor conservation in the uplands.”
Wildland has been tagging raptors on its estates in Cairngorm National Park for many years, displaying the movement of birds on its Animal tracker app for the public to see.
It can be downloaded from app stores and enthusiasts can view birds fitted with GPS tags all over the world. Wildland has agreed to a Strathbraan eagle chick being shown on its platform and is hopeful the arrangement will lead to more positive outcomes for the iconic species.
“Obviously, everyone hopes the chick, when tagged, will survive. This is certainly the ‘A’ plan and why landowners have been willing to fund the project,” said Strathbraan resident and gamekeeper, Ronnie Kippen.
“However, we also know that a significant number of eagle chicks in the wild will die naturally within the first year, largely because they are inexperienced hunters. No one is in control of those aspects, but we venture forward with optimism and it would be great to see the wee one survive.” It is understood the project partners will be looking to name the golden eagle chick in the coming months.