NOT ENOUGH is being done to protect vulnerable livestock from attack by Scotland's growing population of white-tailed sea eagles.

Some farmers and crofters have now endured decades of predation by the re-introduced species, and according to NFU Scotland, official promises of active management to address the problem have simply not delivered.

Its patience at an end, the union this week formally wrote to NatureScot – previously Scottish Natural Heritage – demanding that a 'meaningful suite of actions' be rolled out across the areas that continue to be severely impacted by the hungry birds.

As members of the National Sea Eagle Stakeholder Panel, the union stated that it did not believe enough was being done to deliver the White-tailed Eagle Action Plan which had persuaded the industry to give the species re-introduction its support.

NFUS president, Martin Kennedy, said: “When the joint agreement with NatureScot and NFUS was reached in 2014 promising action on white-tailed eagles, most farmers and crofters put their faith in it and were optimistic that through careful management of the white-tailed eagle population there would be a balanced, sustainable environment to enable and support both agricultural activity as well as the white-tailed eagles.

"Our members are frustrated by the lack of progress to date, particularly in relation to the management of the birds – we need urgent delivery and implementation of key actions.

“We have learned much about the birds’ predation behaviour through the WTE monitor farms with NatureScot overseeing mitigation trials to try and reduce livestock loss with limited success. NatureScot now needs to apply this knowledge in actively trying to reduce the level of predation on some of the impacted farms and crofts.”

In its letter to NatureScot, the union highlighted the key elements of the Action Plan that it believes need prioritised and progressed under the framework of the revised White-tailed Eagle Action Plan 2021-2024.

It also expressed its disappointment and concern that some members of the NSESG have undermined the collaborative work of the group by repeatedly glossing over the fact, based on hard evidence from agreed findings, that in places white-tailed eagles continue to cause significant agricultural damage through predation, and reiterated that it was the responsibility of all of the group to better communicate the very real impacts of white-tailed eagles have on so many farms and crofts across a vast swathe of Scotland.

Mr Kennedy continued: “We are looking to NatureScot to demonstrate genuine commitment to making the necessary progress for farmers and crofters living with white-tailed eagles and we remain determined to support where we can.”