This week has brought incredible news for the natural world as the population of one of Britain’s most iconic birds has reached more than 500 pairs for the first time since records began.
The numbers of the golden eagles in Scotland were recorded in a country-wide survey which was carried out last year, although conservationists say that numbers are still far below what they should be.
Numbers have increased by 15% since the last census in 2003, which means that numbers rose from 442 to 508 pairs, meaning that the species can now be assessed as having “favourable conservation status”.
The team conducted the survey in areas where there has been evidence of golden eagles in the past, and surveyed a total of 729 ranges.
RSPB Scotland’s head of species and land management Duncan Orr-Ewing believes that Scotland could hold about 800 pairs in total, although current numbers are still substantially below Scotland’s carrying capacity.
Although numbers have risen for Britain’s top avian predator, which has complete protection by UK-wide legislation, numbers are still not as they should be for the area. Orr-Ewing believes that one reason for this may be due to heavily over-grazed areas over the generations caused by deer and sheep, meaning that there are less prey species available for the eagles.
We must continue working to protect the golden eagle in Scotland, otherwise we will never get them back in England, where they are now regarded as extinct.
In order to do this we must continue with habitat restoration, replanting native trees which will improve the prey number for the golden eagles.
Orr-Ewing concludes that “it’s good news that we have got this population increase, but we would describe this as a population recovery.”