A SEA eagle has been caught on camera off Scotland's west coast, flying off with a lamb carcass firmly in its grip.

Conservation bodies have long claimed that the birds posed no risk to livestock, but photographs captured by Oban man, Cameron Hill, seem to prove otherwise.

Mr Hill, who lives on Gallanach Estate on the outskirts of Oban, looking out to the islands of Kerrera and Mull, told The Scottish Farmer: “You often see the sea eagles in this area, especially at this time of year. You can see Mull from where we are, and it is well known that that’s where a lot of them are, so we’re effectively in their flight path, so sightings are not unusual.

“This was the first time I had actually seen one carrying what appears to be a lamb, though", he said.

"I was watching it on the cliff – for about five or six minutes – and I thought it would be a good photo opportunity, so grabbed my camera, and it was not until it took off in flight that I realised what was happening, and what it was carrying.

“I know a picture is just a picture, but it’s fairly clear what is in its claws. I obviously can’t comment on the condition of the lamb before the sea eagle lifted it, but it has still lifted it.”

NatureScot said that it will shortly publish an extended Action Plan for the next three years, developed by the National Sea Eagle Stakeholder Panel, aimed at achieving a sustainable coexistence between farming and crofting interests and sea eagles where issues occur.

The nature quango believes that the main support mechanism to help farmers and crofters experiencing sea eagle predation is the Sea Eagle Management Scheme. Following consultation with farming and crofting representatives, this scheme was revised significantly in 2020 and now offers more flexibility and an increased level of support to those affected by sea eagle predation. NatureScot insisted that the scheme was now better placed to address the costs that some individuals have incurred as a result of adapting their management practices to mitigate impacts from sea eagles.

Last year, the scheme supported farmers and crofters through management agreements worth over £190,000. This includes support for new measures such as enhanced shepherding.

With regards to the incident, a spokesman for NatureScot said: “Sea eagles were once widespread across Britain, until they were wiped out as a result of persecution in the early 20th century. The reintroduction of these native birds to Scotland has been successful and benefits tourism.

“However, in some locations, sea eagles impact farming and crofting by predating lambs," he conceded. "We understand the concerns of farmers and crofters, and continue to work closely with them, and a range of stakeholders at the local and national level, to offer management support through the Sea Eagle Management Scheme and to trial management techniques which can help reduce these negative impacts.”