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The National (Scotland)
The National (Scotland)
Lucy Jackson

Number of golden eagles at record high in southern Scottish skies

A CONSERVATION project has announced that it has brought the population of golden eagles to a record high in southern Scotland.

South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project announced that it had quadrupled the population of golden eagles in the south of Scotland to around 46.

Eight chicks were transported over the summer from the Highlands, Perthshire, Angus and the Islands to a secret location in the south of Scotland.

The project organisers say it is the highest number of golden eagles recorded in the area for three centuries.

Cat Barlow, project manager for the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project, said: “We are thrilled to bring eight more chicks to the region - the greatest number we have transported in any one summer so far.

“We’re incredibly excited to see some of the first birds that we translocated in the area now nesting together.

“This is a significant new step in our work to ensure the south of Scotland golden eagle population is self-sustaining and continues to thrive in southern skies for many generations to come.”

Two birds, Edward and Iona, are paired up in a confidential location close to the town of Moffat, Scotland’s Eagle Town, which hosts the UK’s only Eagle Festival between September 22 and 24.

Before the project began, only between two and four pairs of golden eagles were recorded across Dumfries and Galloway.

Organisers says the area could support up to 16 pairs.

Iolo Williams, star of BBC Springwatch and keynote speaker at this year’s festival, said: “The work of this outstanding project is playing a vital role in boosting the small golden eagle population in the south of the country.

“It is brilliant to think that there is an even greater chance of seeing this iconic predator, which is so important to maintaining a healthy ecosystem, soaring in southern skies.

"I can’t wait to attend the Moffat Eagle Festival in September, and hopefully quietly spot some of the golden eagles when I’m there.”

The project received £1.5 million in funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, as well as cash from the Scottish Government.

The South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project said that more than 15,000 volunteers aged between four and 92 had supported the project.

More information about the Eagle Festival and ongoing conservation efforts can be found here.

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