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Chamber and committees

Question ref. S3W-39264
Asked by: Jamie McGrigor, Highlands and Islands, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party
Date lodged: 1 February 2011

Question

To ask the Scottish Executive for what reason it continues to support the reintroduction of sea eagles given that evidence has suggested that limited supplies of live or fresh prey in Scotland have been a factor in the reduction of the breeding performance of golden eagles.

Current status: Answered by Roseanna Cunningham on 25 February 2011


Answer

The sea eagle was driven to extinction by human persecution over 90 years ago. It is one of our most spectacular native birds and the reintroduction programme is a mechanism to allow population recovery. The sea eagle is one of 32 species within Scottish Natural Heritage''s Species Action Framework endorsed by the Scottish Government and other government agencies.

There are differences in territory selection between golden eagles and sea eagles in Scotland. Sea eagles generally nest at lower levels than golden eagles and prefer to nest in trees where they are available and close to the coast or lochs. Sea eagles also eat a broader diet with a higher proportion of sea birds and water birds as well as fish, whereas golden eagles eat a higher proportion of terrestrial species such as rabbits and hares.

In the areas of western Scotland where both species occur the sea eagle population continues to increase whilst there have been some local increases in golden eagle numbers over the same time period. This means that neither food supplies, available nest sites or competition between the species is significantly impacting on either population, therefore there is no reason for the Scottish Government to withdraw its support for the reintroduction of sea eagles to Scotland in line with its biodiversity targets.