Golden eagle named by Andy Wightman disappears

Adam, a young Golden Eagle named by Green MSP Andy Wightman, has disappeared in suspicious circumstances in Highland Perthshire, in an area managed for grouse shooting. 

As the Scottish Environment LINK species champion for the golden eagle, Wightman named the bird Adam in 2018, as a tribute the late ecologist and mountaineer Dr Adam Watson.

As revealed in a new video by broadcaster Chris Packham, GPS tagging showed Adam disappeared at ground level in the Strathbraan area. Another golden eagle also disappeared in the same area on the same morning.

The disappearances are the latest in a number of missing birds that had been satellite-tagged as part of the monitoring of their behaviour and ecology.

The incidents have largely occurred in areas used for intensive driven grouse shooting management.

Andy Wightman has now written to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, calling for a step up in prevention and detection of wildlife crime.

Responding, Andy Wightman said: “I am shocked and devastated by the disappearance of Adam, a young Golden Eagle, whom I spent time with when he was nine weeks old.

“The cold rage that I felt when I heard of the circumstances of his disappearance has now developed into a determination to discover his fate.

“This latest outrage should be a wake-up call to the Scottish Government that for all their reviews, inquiries and reforms, rampant criminality remains in place across many of Scotland’s driven grouse moors.

“Today I have written to the First Minister to ask her to provide clear leadership on eradicating wildlife crime, to legislate to outlaw driven grouse-shooting, to meet with myself and raptor workers and to invite the Justice Secretary to convene a high-level meeting of law enforcement officials to review policing and justice measures.

“Adam’s disappearance happened on the same morning as another satellite-tagged Golden Eagle, Charlie. They both vanished within hours of each other on the same grouse moor in Highland Perthshire.

“These disappearances are merely the latest in a long, long list of raptors to disappear in suspicious circumstances in Scotland.

“Today’s revelations, together with the SNH Report demonstrate conclusively that there is organised criminal activity taking place with impunity on grouse moors. That’s why I’ve asked the First Minister to step up attempts to protect our iconic wildlife.”

A third of all satellite-tagged golden eagles have disappeared without trace on or next to a driven grouse moor.

Broadcaster Chris Packham said: “We can’t prove that harm has come to Adam and Charlie, nor who might have been responsible, but we can look at the circumstances, look at the science, look at the wider evidence and draw plausible conclusions.

“The Scottish Government has already acknowledged that illegal raptor persecution is an ongoing problem. How many more golden eagles do we have to lose before that same Government takes effective action?”