South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine used Parliamentary Questions to ask the Scottish Government what it is doing to protect golden eagles.

The call comes following the death earlier this month of a golden eagle shot on the Southern Upland Way in October last year.

The RSPB have described the death as a disaster for the species, which is “barely clinging on” in the region.

In his response, Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse outlined the steps the Scottish Government were taking. He said:

“All wild birds are protected in Scotland under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Golden eagles are listed in schedule 1 to the 1981 act, which provides further protection measures to prevent disturbance to nesting birds.

“Last month, we added golden eagles to schedules A1 and 1A to the 1981 act, to provide year-round protection for nest sites and protect birds from harassment.”

He added:

“Since 2008, we have broadened and developed the partnership for action against wildlife crime in Scotland—PAW Scotland; strengthened the legal framework by introducing vicarious liability; provided funding for the national wildlife crime unit; and supported initiatives to tag and satellite track golden eagles. Recent police reform has increased the number of specialist wildlife crime officers.

“We stand ready to introduce further measures, should that be necessary.”

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“I am pleased that the Scottish Government is taking the protection of golden eagles so seriously. They are a beautiful species and it is sad to see them reducing in numbers across Dumfries and Galloway.

“I hope these measures go some way to alleviating this decline. I was particularly heartened to hear that the Scottish Government are not being complacent and are prepared to introduce even stronger measures should these be needed.”

She added:

“I have asked RSPB Scotland to keep me updated on the issue.”