Sea Eagle Management Scheme support extended for 2024

Sheep producers who have lost livestock to sea eagles will continue to receive support for 2024, the Scottish government has confirmed.

Up to £400,000 has been allocated to the Sea Eagle Management Scheme, with farmers and crofters set to receive between £500 and £5,000 each to help find ways of mitigating attacks on their flocks.

See also: NFU Scotland disputes study claims on sea eagle predation

Scotland’s agriculture minister, Jim Fairlie, said the funding was vital to balance protection of the natural environment with the needs of rural communities.

“I’ve spoken to many farmers who have experienced these disruptive attacks,” he said. “I fully understand both the mental and financial toll that eagle attacks are having on them and their businesses.”

Management agreements

Robbie Kernahan, NatureScot’s director of green economy, also acknowledged the effect sea eagles could have on farms and crofts in some locations.

The organisation was committed to the continuation of the Sea Eagle Management Scheme and was working to get management agreements in place.

It would be in touch directly with those affected “as soon as possible”.

The announcement follows complaints from farmers that the funding was being held up by NatureScot, even though lambing is now well under way.

“White-tailed eagles are already active in lambing parks in several parts of Scotland, as seen in much-publicised social media posts this week,” said NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy.

“The poor weather may create even more problems with predation of lambs, as their alternative prey tend to be scarce,” he added. 

More than 200 farms and crofting businesses are set to benefit from this year’s funding package.

For some, the money can be used to take on an additional shepherd during lambing to help protect sheep from predation.