Tag in Cairngorms trial would give 'instant fix' on dead eagles

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Some golden eagles will be fitted with the new technology over the next 18 months

A new type of satellite tag for tracking birds of prey is being trialled in the Cairngorms National Park.

Over the next 18 months, some young golden eagles will be fitted with the Raptor Tracker.

Organisations involved in the project said the tag should provide better information on the birds' movements.

It should also give an "instant fix" on any eagles that die, which would help in efforts to tackle wildlife crime.

Several organisations are involved in the project, including the Cairngorms National Park Authority, Scottish Natural Heritage and British Trust for Ornithology.

They said tags in current use were "limited" in what information they could provide on the exact location of any bird which dies.

The new device uses a satellite network that ensures that signal information is always available.

'Exciting breakthrough'

The project team said that the new tag's multiple sensors can send a "distress signal" with an exact location if unusual behaviour is detected.

This early warning system has the added benefit of helping to rapidly identify and recover birds which have died, said the team.

Image source, Lorne Gill/SNH
Image caption,
The new tag will provide more information on the movement and behaviour of golden eagles in the Cairngorms

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said the trial should improve understanding of the behaviour of the Cairngorms' golden eagles.

She said: "The tags should make a real difference in deterring would-be criminals, as well as playing a key role in establishing exactly what happened, should any of these magnificent birds of prey disappear or die in unusual circumstances."

Grant Moir, of the national park authority, said: "Raptor conservation and tackling wildlife crime is one of the aims of the recently launched Cairngorms Nature Action Plan 2019-2023.

"This is an exciting breakthrough in the technology around raptor conservation, understanding the birds and combating wildlife crime."

Robbie Kernahan, of Scottish Natural Heritage, described the tag as "exciting new technology".

He said it should be a "significant deterrent" to anyone thinking of persecuting raptors.

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