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Sea eagles menace Scottish children

Clergyman attacked, kiddies next on the menu

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The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) has had a bit of a Daily Mail moment by claiming reintroduced sea eagles pose a serious threat to children, and that there should be an "exit strategy"* to deal with the menace from birds of prey should they decide to dine on Caledonian kiddies.

The warning comes after a white-tailed sea eagle attack on the Very Rev Hunter Farquharson, when the man of the cloth arrived home at Abernethy, near Perth, to find one of his geese dead on the ground. While attempting to protect a second goose from clawed death, Farquharson suffered a head injury when the "flying barn door" jumped onto his back.

Sea eagles are, the BBC notes, the UK's largest bird of prey, although their 8ft wingspan didn't grace our skies for many years after they were wiped out in the early 20th century. In 1975, they were reintroduced on the island of Rum off Scotland's west coast, and the species has since spread to Mull and Skye, and Wester Ross on the mainland.

These animals haven't caused any problems, and indeed the SGA has no objection to them, but the association is none too happy about the release of examples on the east coast. The Farquharson flying fury furore has prompted the SGA to demand a public enquiry into the programme.

In a letter to Scottish government, it wrote: "These creatures are being released into what is a comparatively densely populated area so they will come into contact with humans on a daily basis. That will instil habituated behaviour and remove what should be a healthy fear of humans.

"There are reports of buzzards which have obviously undergone this desensitization and this has resulted in them attacking people. This could pose a serious threat in the future. Will these very large creatures differentiate between a small child and more natural quarry?"

RSPB Scotland is none too impressed. It responded on Twitter: "Alarmist nonsense from the SGA. Sea eagle could soon be eating small children. Surely ScotGov won't take this seriously."

Regarding the Farquharson attack, an RSPB spokesman recently said: "In our experience sea eagles will only defend themselves and attack humans if they feel cornered and threatened. It is of course unfortunate that the bird scratched Mr Farquharson, but we believe it was simply trying to escape and resist capture." ®

Bootnote

* = Take large amounts of cash from Go Daddy CEO Bob Parsons so he can shoot them. A win-win for the SGA.

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