Conserving Scotland’s birds of prey

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The Scottish Raptor Study Groups (SRSGs) agree with the Scottish Gamekeepers Association chairman Alex Hogg that land management of the right sort can contribute to golden eagle conservation (your report, 6 July).

SRSGs are intrigued by Mr Hogg’s remark that his members in the keepered grouse areas of east and central Scotland have identified at least 55 active eagle nests still in place since 2003. SRSGs will be interested in a comparison of this figure with their own detailed survey records, assessing golden eagle territory occupation and breeding attempts (successful or otherwise) in these areas throughout the ten seasons 2004 to 2013. The comparison will focus particularly on ground still being managed as commercial grouse moor. This should establish whether or not there is a discrepancy (and if there is, the extent of this discrepancy) between SRSGs’ own comprehensively gathered data and Mr Hogg’s figure of 55 active eagle nests.

Historical context is the marked decrease in territory occupation in the areas concerned (revealed by the 2003 census) from the substantially higher levels of occupation recorded in the previous golden eagle national survey years of 1992 and 1982.

Patrick Stirling-Aird

Scottish Raptor Study Groups

Old Kippenross

Dunblane

Irvine Inglis (Letters, 6 July), complains that the photograph used to illustrate an article on gamekeepers was disgraceful, claiming that most urban people do not understand the difficult jobs undertaken by gamekeepers.

What Mr Inglis fails to understand is that the photograph is a perfect image of how many Scots see gamekeepers.

In the past month alone we have heard of three offences on shooting estates, a tree containing a sea eagle nest in Angus being felled, a gamekeeper in Dumfries being convicted of possessing banned poisons and a considerable haul of poisoned baits found on a shooting estate in Lanarkshire.

It will take the cessation of illegal activities – and not a photograph – to change the public’s perception.

Logan D Steele

Bridgewater Avenue

Auchterarder

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