Fearnan – illegally poisoned

Golden Eagle “Fearnan” poisoned in Angus glens – another crime against Scotland’s eagles.

 Fearnan’s satellite transmitter sent data on 21st/22nd November which gave cause for concern that she was dead.  Police Scotland from Forfar went to the GPS location in the Angus hills near Glen Lethnot on 3rd December and collected the dead eagle and transmitter.  Analysis in the Government laboratory proved that she had been illegally poisoned. The police carried out an investigation of the crime scene area on 19th December. She was killed two years and 4 months after leaving her nest.

This is not far from where our first GPS tracked eagle “Alma” was illegally poisoned in 2009, and the young eagle Angus 26 also disappeared in suspicious circumstances. No person or estate has been prosecuted for these crimes.

Golden eagle was one of the Five Species chosen in 2013 to represent The Year of Natural Scotland run by SNH, with the golden eagle voted as the Scottish public’s favourite.

There is no doubt that some grouse moor estates in Angus are very dangerous hills for raptors, with two of our tracked young female peregrine falcons, Rowan and Eskin, also disappearing in suspicious circumstances when visiting empty nesting sites in the same hills.

In addition to serious illegal persecution, there is also the destroying of our satellite tracking studies on young raptors. Each lost transmitter represents at least £3000 plus the money and time spent in collating and updating data on our websites. If any one would like to sponsor our work and new transmitters to make up for these losses, please get in contact – it would be much appreciated.   

Information of Fearnan

Fearnan was a young female golden eagle ringed and tagged on 25th June 2011 in an eyrie near Loch Tay in Perthshire by Keith Brockie, the famous Scottish Bird Artist and raptor worker. The satellite tag, updating and down load costs were financed by the Highland Foundation for Wildlife, and her movements were updated regularly on Highland Foundation for Wildlife website: www.roydennis.org

Keith with Fearnan

Keith Brockie with Fearnan at ringing date 25th June 2011 – photo courtesy of Keith Brockie

Fearnan fledged on 23rd July 2011 and remained within her parents’ home range throughout 2011 and through to 4th March 2012. She remained in Perthshire until 29th April when she started a journey north which reached Croick in Sutherland on 4th May.She flew south to Loch Rannoch by 15th May and then north to the hills in North Perthshire just east of the A9, where she stayed until 16th June. She then flew to the Monadhliaths into early July before moving to Glenfeshie and then Gaick. She then settled between Dalwhinnie and Gaick and stayed in this general area right through into October with short flights to Glenfeshie and North Perthshire and on 20th October was briefly on low ground to the west of the A9 road. In late November she was in Glenfeshie and then back in the hills in North Perthshire before returning to the Dalwhinnie area


Fearnan's movements in 2012

Fearnan’s movements in 2012

Map of 2012 locations for Fearnan

Summary of Activity in 2013: Fearnan lived in the North Perthshire, Dalwhinnie and south Monadhliaths region for much of the year, with the Cuaich area east of Dalwhinnie being a favourite location. On 1st – 2nd April she carried out a return flight to Lochaber and Lochalsh. On 15th April she moved to the Cullardoch area, north of Braemar, and remained in Aberdeenshire until 9th May. During this time she made a three day trip to Glentanar and as far as Milden Estate before returning.  On 9th May she flew back to the Monadhliaths and settled again near Cuaich or in the Monadhliaths and North Perthshire.  On 3rd November she left her normal haunts and headed east to the Angus Glens on 4th November when she arrived in the Glen Clova area in Angus which was the first time in these hills. Between then and  19th November she stayed in the area between Ben Tirran and west of Glen Lee, with a return flight to Glen Muick and back on 6th/7th November. On 20th November at midday she flew south and roosted that night on the eastern slope of Ben Tirran. On 21st Fearnan flew on south-east to the area where she was poisoned that or the next day.


Fearnan's movements in 2013

Fearnan’s movements in 2013

Map of 2013 locations for Fearnan

Press Release put out by Police Scotland 19th December

Golden Eagle Poisoned in Angus

Published 16:17

Police Scotland is carrying out enquiries after tests established that a Golden Eagle found dead in Angus earlier this month was poisoned. The bird was discovered in the Glen Lethnot area in Angus after suspicions were raised by satellite tracking equipment that indicated it had remained in the same place for a significant period of time.

As police investigations continue, officers request that anyone who was in the Glen Lethnot and surrounding areas between the November 10 and November 25 contacts the Police Scotland.

Constable Blair Wilkie, Wildlife Liaison Officer for the Angus area said:

“Given the rural location of this crime, we appeal to anyone who was out walking, working, or indeed out on the hills for whatever purpose between those dates, to get in touch. You may not think that any information you have is of value to us, but please let us be the judges of that.

“It’s also important to stress to the public that in cases where poisoned baits are used to target birds of prey, the poisons present a wider threat. They are, without question, a significant health risk to both humans and animals.

“If you find what you suspect to be poisoned bait – Do not touch it.

“Cover it if possible and contact the police with details of its location. A team of officers is continuing to conduct searches in the Glen Lethnot with a view to recovering the bait used to poison this bird.”

Anyone with information that could assist police enquiries should contact 101, or speak to any officer. Information can also be provided anonymously via the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

 Press Release put out by RSPB Scotland

Golden eagle found poisoned in the Angus Glens

RSPB Scotland has today (19 Dec 2013) condemned those responsible for the killing of a satellite-tagged golden eagle, found poisoned on the hills above Glen Lethnot in Angus.

The bird was discovered after Roy Dennis of the Highland Foundation for Wildlife, who was monitoring the eagle’s movements, became suspicious  when the satellite signal remained static for several days.

He immediately alerted the police and RSPB Scotland investigations staff who later visited the area, which is intensively managed for grouse shooting, and a search of the moor allowed the recovery of the dead bird..

Tests carried out by the Scottish Government laboratory of Science and Advice for Scottish agriculture confirmed that the bird had been poisoned.

The eagle, named “Fearnan”, was ringed as a chick in a nest near Loch Tay in Perthshire in June 2011 and had spent much of its life in Badenoch, before moving to the Angus glens in early November. Just three weeks later, it had been poisoned.

Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland, said: “This appalling incident involving a species recently voted as the nation’s favourite bird, marks a dreadful end to the Year of Natural Scotland. We have recently submitted a petition to the Scottish Government, asking for the golden eagle to be officially designated as the national bird of Scotland. Incidents such as this show very clearly why this iconic bird needs not just our recognition, but also greater protection. We sincerely hope that those responsible are swiftly brought to justice and would encourage those with information to come forward.”

In the past five and a half years, another four eagles, a red kite and seven buzzards have been shot, poisoned or trapped  on sporting estates situated in the Angus Glens. In January 2013, the nest tree of a pair of white-tailed eagles was felled. No-one has been prosecuted for any of these offences.

Mr Housden added: “I will be asking the environment spokesperson of all the parties in the Scottish Parliament to take cross-party action to stiffen the penalties for those convicted of such offences and to look again at the regulation of sport shooting. The current state of affairs is simply unacceptable.”

A recent report by RSPB Scotland revealed that a significant number of incidents of illegal killing of birds of prey took place in areas managed for driven grouse shooting.


For more information/interviews/images, please contact Louise Purves, RSPB Scotland Media & Communications Officer, on 0131 317 4136 or 07540 121 457.

Notes to editor

Previous confirmed persecution incidents in the Angus Glens:

  • In 2008, a White-tailed Eagle was found poisoned, with a follow-up search discovering a poisoned buzzard, a poison hare bait and 32 meat baits placed along the boundary fence of the Glenogil Estate.
  • In 2009, two buzzards and a second White-tailed Eagle were found poisoned on the Glenogil Estate, with a poisoned golden eagle and buzzard found on the Millden Estate.
  • In 2010 a poisoned red kite was found near Noranside, with two poisoned buzzards and adjacent pigeon baits found on the nearby Glenogil Estate
  • In 2011, a buzzard was seen shot on the Millden Estate.
  • In 2012 a satellite-tagged golden eagle was caught in a spring trap, breaking both its legs, on the Millden estate. The bird was then apparently moved overnight and dumped under a tree in Deeside where it was later found dead.
  • In 2013, a tree on the Invermark Estate, holding the first white-tailed eagle nest in eastern Scotland for two hundred years, was felled.



by RSPB Scotland today