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Borders sole breeding eagle poisoned

The Scottish Borders has lost its only breeding pair of golden eagles, after the shocking discovery of an illegally posioned bird.  Yesterday (Sunday 12th), a joint investigation by Lothian and Borders Police, RSPB Scotland, the Scottish SPCA and the Scottish Executive searched land and property, and discovered a poisoned bait on a grouse moor in the Borders.  Ironically, yesterday was the “glorious twelfth”, marking the start of the grouse shooting season.

The death is especially sickening given that the pair did raise a chick this year.  Although the chick has fledged and is now semi-independent, it was still being fed by both parents and so there are now significant concerns for its safety.

RSPB Scotland is now offering a reward of £1000 for information with regards to the case, and people should call PC Mark Rafferty on 07785 248 455.

Bob Elliot, Head of Investigations at RSPB Scotland said, “Despite being excellent golden eagle country, the borders has been a real black hole in terms of golden eagle breeding in Scotland.  Sadly, illegal persecution of birds of prey continues to be a shameful fact of life in parts of Scotland in the 21st century, and unfortunately the evidence shows that there is a correlation between the location of grouse moors and the incidence of raptor poisoning.   Now, after 9 or 10 years together, the Borders has lost its only breeding pair of golden eagles, and we hope that by offering a reward, a member of the public will help the police to catch the perpetrator and bring them to justice.”

PC Mark Rafferty, wildlife crime officer with Lothian and Borders police said, “Despite the efforts of myself and other Wildlife Crime Officers and our partners, the illegal and indiscriminate use of poisons is still alive and well in the Borders area.  This incident goes to show that people are still willing to take this risk, and the result is that one of Scotland’s finest birds has now been destroyed.  This is criminal behaviour, and I’d ask for the public and particularly the gamekeeping community to come forward with information on this or any illegal wildlife crime”

Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said, “The various agencies concerned are sickened at the mindless poisoning of the female golden eagle found on a grouse moor. Scotland has lost one half of the only breeding pair in the Borders and this could ultimately result in a second tragedy as it is unclear if the chick will survive. The Scottish Borders has seen too many incidents involving the illegal poisoning of birds of prey in the last few years and it is important that anyone with information comes forward.”

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