Nature Champions: Golden Eagle

(c) Mark Sisson

The Golden Eagle is a magnificent bird of prey regarded by many as Scotland’s national bird.

The most recent national golden eagle survey (2015) put the UK population at 508 pairs – all in Scotland. This was a rise of 15% from the previous (2003) survey and indicates ongoing recovery of a population affected by widespread persecution since the mid-19th century.

However, the species continues to fare poorly in certain areas: a Government commissioned report in 2017 found that of 131 young golden eagles fitted with satellite-tags, a third disappeared in suspicious circumstances significantly connected with contemporary records of illegal persecution – mostly on managed grouse moors in the central and eastern highlands.

Action Needed

  • Support of strong measures to tackle wildlife crime, especially on grouse moors.  
  • The introduction of an effective licensing system for driven grouse shooting, with sanctions including the removal of such licences where illegal practices are confirmed.
  • Support the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project which aims to boost numbers of Golden Eagles in this region.



  • Illegal persecution, especially in areas managed as grouse moors.
  • Unsustainable culls of mountain hares in some intensively managed upland areas, which reduce the availability of an important prey species

MSP Nature Champion

Christine Grahame

Member for: Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale

Region: South of Scotland

Party: Scottish National Party

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