A new scheme has been introduced this year to continue support for livestock farmers and crofters experiencing impacts across the sea eagle breeding range.
The sea eagle management scheme will be managed by local stakeholder groups set up across the sea eagle range and administered, on their behalf, by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
The stakeholder groups are represented on a national scheme panel with members from SNH, National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS), RSPB Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS), Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate (SGRPID) and Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF). Initially, stakeholder groups have been set up in Argyll & Lochaber, Skye & Lochalsh, and Wester Ross. Other groups may be established where the demand arises.
The scheme will operate from 2015 to 2018 and will investigate all issues involving sea eagle impacts on livestock. It will also trial prevention measures where required and practical.
Support is available through experienced contractors, loan of equipment, and payments to land managers who undertake prevention measures as part of their livestock management.
Ross Lilley, SNH sea eagle scheme manager, says: “We’d like to ask all farmers and crofters who experience issues with sea eagles and livestock to contact their local SNH office. The staff at the local SNH office will arrange for someone to respond and investigate on behalf of the local stakeholder group.”
Scheme advisors will:
investigate, as far as possible, what sea eagle activity is occurring in the vicinity of the farm.
help gather evidence of sea eagle impacts and the recording of any livestock losses due to sea eagles or other causes.
advise on measures to mitigate against sea eagle impacts.
arrange to loan equipment, where applicable, to use as deterrents or other mitigation.
make recommendations to SNH and the local stakeholder group on support for longer term management carried out by the livestock manager.
Lachie Maclean, a Mull farmer, NFUS member and Chair of the Argyll and Lochaber stakeholder group, says: Funding for the new scheme has been substantially increased compared to the previous scheme and is another action implemented from the NFUS/SNH joint statement agreed last year.
“The sea eagle scheme panel are keen to record all incidents of reported sea eagle impacts as the sea eagle population continues to expand into its former range.
“Only by thoroughly understanding the part sea eagles play in livestock losses can we work together with partners to help develop ways to deal with any losses in the longer term.”