Tayside and Central Scotland

Two golden eagles 'disappear' from Perthshire grouse moor

a golden eagle
Image caption The movement of golden eagles is monitored using satellite tags

Two golden eagles have disappeared "in suspicious circumstances" on the same grouse moor, wildlife presenter Chris Packham has said.

The satellite-tagged birds were being monitored as part of a study into young golden eagles in Scotland.

Adam and Charlie are said to have vanished within hours of each other from the Auchnafree Estate, near Dunkeld in Perthshire, on 18 April.

The eagles' tags stopped working and neither bird has been traced.

Police Scotland confirmed it was conducting an investigation into the disappearance of the eagles in an area between Loch Tay and Glen Almond.

Raptor Persecution UK, which was monitoring the birds, said there was no evidence to suggest the estate had any involvement in the disappearances.

Image copyright Ruth Tingay
Image caption Green MSP Andy Wightman named the eagle Adam

Springwatch presenter Mr Packham said: "We can't prove that harm has come to Adam and Charlie, nor who might have been responsible, but we can look at the circumstances, look at the science, look at the wider evidence and draw plausible conclusions.

"The Scottish government has already acknowledged that illegal raptor persecution is an ongoing problem.

"How many more golden eagles do we have to lose before that same government takes effective action?"

Charlie and Adam hatched at separate nests in the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

'Cold rage'

Adam was named and adopted by Green MSP Andy Wightman, who said he was "shocked and devastated" to hear the eagle had gone missing.

He said: "The cold rage that I felt when I heard of the circumstances of his disappearance has now developed into a determination to discover his fate.

"This latest outrage should be a wake-up call to the Scottish government that, for all their reviews, inquiries and reforms, rampant criminality remains in place across many of Scotland's driven grouse moors."

A spokeswoman for the Auchnafree Estate issued a new appeal for information about the missing birds.

Image copyright Peter Cairns/RSPB

Alix Whitaker said: "We were absolutely shocked to learn that these two eagles were missing. They have been around the estate for some time now and we were delighted to have them.

"We have been told by the police that neither the estate nor its staff were involved in their apparent disappearance.

"No-one knows what has happened to these birds and we would urge anyone with information to make contact with Police Scotland as soon as possible. We have also written to neighbouring estates to ask them to help."

'Smearing not justified'

Scottish Land & Estates, which represents landowners and rural businesses, added: "It is for the police to complete their investigations. If a crime has been committed, then we would condemn that without reservation. In the meantime, we believe that smearing grouse shooting in this way is not justified."

A Scottish government review of grouse moor management practices is expected to be published in the coming months.

A spokesman for The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said: "Where there is evidence wildlife crime has taken place, the SGA acts and acts robustly, as we have done on seven occasions in the past seven years by expelling members who have committed wildlife crime offences. We have a very strict policy regarding this.

"We have been heartened by record low wildlife crime rates in Scotland, according to the Scottish government's own official statistics, but we have concerns regarding missing satellite-tagged birds which are being monitored by non-independent agencies."

Anyone with information about the disappearance of Adam and Charlie is urged to contact Police Scotland on 101 or the RSPB's confidential raptor crime hotline on 0300 999 0101.