Calls for sea eagle cull as lambs being ‘torn limb from limb’
Date of alert:
Monday, 11 April 2022
Sea eagles should be culled because a reintroduction of the predators to the UK has led to them terrorising rural communities and killing lambs, an MP has claimed.
Angus MacNeil, who represents the Western Isles, claimed numbers of the raptors, which were extinct in Britain before they were brought back in the 1970s, were now “out of control” following successful breeding programmes.
He said plans to drastically expand the population further would drive crofters out of business due to rising cases of lambs being “torn limb from limb” by eagles which had moved away from feeding on fish.
His call for a cull of the protected species provoked a backlash from conservationists, with the reintroduction of the birds seen as a major success story by wildlife bodies.
The RSPB suggested the number of lamb deaths attributed to sea eagles had been exaggerated.
However, the MP, who keeps 33 ewes, criticised city-based commentators who he claimed had little understanding of the impact the eagles were having on rural livelihoods.
Two of his neighbour’s healthy four-day-old lambs in Barra had been “ripped apart” by eagles at the weekend, Mr MacNeil said.
He posted gruesome images of the carcasses online, saying the birds would be more accurately named “lamb eagles”.
Mr MacNeil, a veteran SNP MP, said he had also heard reports of a woman in Fort William fighting off an eagle with her umbrella after it attacked her chihuahua, and another bird killing a Jack Russell on Uist, in the Outer Hebrides.
Sea eagles were driven to extinction in the UK in 1918 but were reintroduced to the Isle of Rum in 1975.