GPS data from the endangered young eagle, that was tagged by environmentalist Chris Packham, stopped transmitting before randomly restarting out at sea
Fri 16 Feb 2018 11.12 GMTLast modified on Fri 16 Feb 2018 11.13 GMT
A young golden eagle may have been illegally killed near Edinburgh and dumped at sea after its satellite tag inexplicably stopped transmitting and then restarted in the North Sea.
The golden eagle was tagged by broadcaster and environmentalist Chris Packham and the campaign group Raptor Persecution UK at a nest in the Scottish Borders last summer, and named Fred, after the landowner’s grandson.
After the eagle fledged from what was the only nest in the region, GPS data from its tag revealed Fred spent several months in his parents’ territory before, this year flying north to the Pentland Hills, “woodland hopping” close to Edinburgh’s bypass.
On 20 January, Fred roosted overnight in trees overlooking a grouse moor. At 10am on 21 January, his tag suddenly stopped working.
On the evening of 24 January, the tag began transmitting again – some 10 miles off the east coast of Scotland beyond St Andrews. The tag continued to provide GPS data until 26 January, showing a final position 15 miles offshore.
Dr Ruth Tingay, of Raptor Persecution UK, said: “It is beyond doubt that Fred’s disappearance is highly suspicious. Golden eagles don’t generally fly out for miles over large bodies of sea water but even if Fred had done so, apart from defying everything we’ve learned about Scottish golden eagle behaviour, we would have seen excellent tracking data plotting his route given the reliability of his tag.