National recognition for Scottish Golden Eagle scheme


A pioneering Golden Eagle project in southern Scotland has received major recognition via the National Lottery awards.

The South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project (SSGEP), set up five years ago in the Moffat Hills to help ensure the survival of the species in the area, has been named Scottish project of the year. The work, which sees birds relocated from the Highlands, has seen numbers rise from just a handful to nearly 40.

Around 40 Golden Eagles are now at large in the Moffat Hills area in southern Scotland (Ron Marshall).

Project manager, Dr Cat Barlow, said things had been progressing well, commenting: "We are in year five of a six-year project at the moment. The birds are doing really, really well: there are more Golden Eagles in the south of Scotland than we have seen for nearly 300 years, which is brilliant."

However, she said there remained plenty of work to be done, adding: "It is still early days from a Golden Eagle point of view because they are a very long-living bird. They take nearly five years to mature to breeding so, even though we have been going for five years we haven't quite had that breeding success yet.

"Those young birds are still establishing and learning to hunt and finding their territories. Fingers crossed next year we'll start to see those first steps."

She said that financial assistance from the National Lottery had been essential for the scheme but it had still been a shock to take the honour.