Sea eagle nest ‘destruction’ prompts police probe

Police are investigating the destruction of a sea eagle nest in the east of Scotland. Picture: PA
Police are investigating the destruction of a sea eagle nest in the east of Scotland. Picture: PA
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A POLICE investigation has been launched into claims that the first sea eagle’s nest to be built in the east of Scotland for 150 years has been destroyed.

• Police are investigating claims that a sea eagle nest, the first in the east of Scotland for over 150 years, was destroyed

• The estate on which the nest was deestroyed deny allgeations of wrongdoing

The investigation began after the RSPB in Scotland reported that a tree in which the pair of white-tailed eagles had made their nest on a remote estate in the Angus glens was allegedly felled in January.

Last August, the last six of 85 young sea eagles, taken from nests in Norway, were released into the wild at a secret location in Fife, as part of a major programme to reintroduce the iconic birds – dubbed “flying barn doors” – to the east of Scotland.

The nest is alleged to have been destroyed on the Invermark Estate, part of the Earl of Dalhousie’s estates. The estate last night strenuously denied the allegations.

Duncan Orr-Ewing, RSPB Scotland’s head of species and land management, said the wildlife charity had alerted Police Scotland after discovering that the tree in which the nest had been built had been brought down.

“Over several months, our staff had been monitoring this pair of white-tailed eagles from the east of Scotland release scheme in collaboration with local landowners,” he said.

He added: “If anyone can provide further information on this deplorable incident, they should contact Police Scotland as soon as possible.”

Mr Orr-Ewing said it had been the “first nesting attempt” by white-tailed eagles in the east of Scotland for over a century and the start of what was hoped would become a thriving population of the birds in a former part of their natural range.

“In east Scotland, this project has captured widespread public imagination and supports. It is desperately disappointing and frustrating that what should have been a cause for celebration for all those interested in our wildlife appears to have become yet another statistic in the long list of crimes against Scotland’s birds of prey.”

A spokesman for Invermark Estate denied the claims. He said: “We take our wildlife management responsibilities very seriously and are proud of our record in this area. We have also had an excellent relationship with all relevant wildlife organisations, especially the RSPB, with whom we often work in partnership.

“The estate has also been an enthusiastic supporter of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (Paw). We have many species on the estate, including golden eagles, ospreys – as well as the sea eagles in question which are thriving on the estate. We have long been happy with the presence of all these species.”

He said: “Any suggestion that the estate or its employees – who are highly trained and implement extensive conservation programmes – would jeopardise or disrupt species that have made this estate their home, is disputed in the strongest possible terms.”

A spokesman for Scottish Land and Estates also pledged its support for the Angus sporting estate. He said: “Invermark Estate has an exemplary record in wildlife conservation and protection.

“What we do know is that the sea eagles are alive and well and remain on the estate.”

Paul Wheelhouse, Scotland’s environment minister, said: “This incident is under police investigation and I am therefore unable to comment in detail, but if reports are correct this is a shocking and brutal way to end the nesting attempts of a pair of young sea eagles.”