From the Press

SBS Trustee, Colin Strang Steel responds to a recent article in The Scottish Farmer:

Sir, – Your dramatic front page story in The Scottish Farmer, April 13 and forthright editorial about the killing of a golden eagle by a sea eagle should act as a long overdue wake-up call to self-professed conservationists and government departments alike.

They should note that reintroductions and blanket protection of certain potentially problematic species is counter-productive and unsustainable.

Unfortunately, our largely urban population who are subjected to a barrage of so-called nature programmes on television have been led to believe that harmony exists in the countryside and if there should be a problem, then nature will find its balance.

The reality is that those who should know better are unwilling to face up to the fact that in our largely managed countryside, nature is currently out of balance, with an overabundance of some problematic, predatory and scavenging species.

While lambs have become an increasingly regular target for Scotland’s burgeoning sea eagle population, ground-nesting farm and upland birds like skylark, curlew, golden plover and lapwing face an increasingly hostile environment and if they do manage to produce some eggs by avoiding the attention of badgers, buzzards, crows, foxes and gulls, the chances are that their young will be taken by one or other of these predators before reaching maturity.


Even the best intentioned and properly targeted predator control is unlikely to do more than scratch the surface when many predatory and scavenging species are over-protected by law.

When a reintroduced species starts to cause problems for those who make their living from the land and help feed the nation to boot, as is happening with sea eagles, it is usually too late to do anything about it.

Because the farming community has been to the fore in pointing out the damage which these birds have been doing to sheep almost since the day they were first reintroduced, the government needs to intervene and agree on a practical solution to stop this problem and other similar ones from spreading.

At the same time, government departments also need to heed the constant warnings about the continuing loss of our wildlife, farm and songbirds in particular as a result of increased predation.

Colin Strang Steel

Trustee SongBird Survival,



Read the full opinions page in The Scottish Farmer here 

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