Golden Eagles in a Multiple Land-Use Environment: A Case Study in Conflict Management

Journal Article

Title: Golden Eagles in a Multiple Land-Use Environment: A Case Study in Conflict Management
Publication Date:
January 01, 2002
Journal: Journal of Raptor Research
Volume: 36
Pages: 55-61
Publisher: The Raptor Research Foundation, Inc.

Document Access

Website: External Link
Attachment: Access File
(796 KB)


Madders, M.; Walker, D. (2002). Golden Eagles in a Multiple Land-Use Environment: A Case Study in Conflict Management. Journal of Raptor Research, 36, 55-61.

Sheep farming and forestry dominate land use over much of western Scotland, and these activities have important implications for the nesting density and reproductive success of Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos). In some areas, secondary land uses such as wind energy developments and opencast quarrying are being considered. The additive effects of such developments have prompted concern among conservationists that eagles will be adversely affected. In this paper, we summarize an approach used to investigate and reduce to acceptable levels the impacts of sheep, forestry, and a planned wind energy development on a territorial pair of eagles in the Kintyre peninsula. Site-specific studies of eagle ranging, diet, and prey distribution indicated: (1) eagle activity was greatest in a contiguous area of high elevation moorland that included part of the proposed wind farm; (2) eagles avoided forest habitats, except where the trees were young, or the stands were small; (3) avian prey, particularly Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus scoticus), was an important component of diet during a summer in which the eagles bred successfully; and (4) an important population of Red Grouse occupied the proposed wind farm. We concluded that avoidance of the wind farm by eagles would result in the forfeiture of an important prey resource. Alternatively, in the absence of any modification of ranging behavior, eagles were at considerable risk of collision with wind turbines. This paradigm led us to develop a large-scale management scheme with the aim of reducing the cumulative impacts of the various land uses. A key objective of the scheme is to increase the overall number of grouse available to eagles. We intend to achieve this through the conversion of forest habitat to moorland and extensive management of sheep. Simultaneously, the scheme seeks to discourage eagles from entering the wind farm by impoverishing the local habitat for grouse. We suggest that secondary developments such as wind farms sometimes represent an opportunity to enhance landscapes that have been degraded by previous land use decisions

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