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Laser beams not on list of methods to target sea eagles preying on lambs

Farmers and crofters in western Scotland have instead been using tree felling and rocket audio to deter the predators.


Lauren   Dean

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Lauren   Dean
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Methods to target sea eagles preying on lambs not so far including laser beams

An ongoing decision to chop down trees where sea eagles nest is expected to become a major contributor to the reduction of snatched lambs.

 

In a move to rid farmer frustration of a rising sea eagle population, a number of monitor farms in Argyll, on the west coast of Scotland, were given the go-ahead to fell trees after measures such shepherding failed to prevent additional flock loss.

 

Andrew Bauer, NFU Scotland’s deputy director of policy, was keen to draw attention to the benefits of tree felling and rocket audio deterrents after inaccurate reports in the national press suggested embryonic laser beam technology was being employed to disorientate the birds.

 

He hoped the initiative would deflect the bird’s natural flight path to avoid grazing areas and reposition its home territory.

 

“The laser trials people are talking about have not actually gone ahead yet,” Mr Bauer said. “At the moment we are only talking to farmers and crofters about the potential it might have in relation to sea eagles.”


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Mr Bauer said although tree felling was currently going ahead, it will be put on hold in the coming months to avoid interference with winter breeding.

 

He said: “We are now watching to see if that affects the behaviour of the birds.

 

Expanding population

“We know farmers and crofters are affected and have been for years, but the population of sea eagles is expanding rapidly. They are past the point they can absorb this without help.

 

“The sea eagle is here to stay so we have to find solutions.”

 

If the trial works, it is likely the methods will be rolled out into other areas of Scotland but if not, Mr Bauer said himself and members of the Sea Eagle Action Plan would have to ‘sit down and think about what else could help’.

 

Ross Lilley, sea eagle project manager at Scottish Natural Heritage, added: "At this point, no trials on laser scaring deterrents for sea eagles have been undertaken.

 

“They are under consideration along with other options. A carefully monitored trial will be critical to make sure lasers are a safe and effective method before we proceed any further.”

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