Fear is spreading on social media about how the golden eagle population in Norway is ‘out of control’. But the media is not from the scientists, on the contrary, there is a deeply worrying concern coming from the experts studying them, writes NRK.
I have followed this case for a year now, reading all the NINA reports on Norwegian golden eagles, easily accessible for every Norwegian online. Reading newspaper articles on conflicts between livestock farmers and predators, and last but not least, checking the online data at http://www.rovdata.no for registered animals being attacked or killed by predators, narrowing it down to specifically ‘eagle attacks’. Guess what, while 2016 has been the year with the least registered attacks in almost 10 year, the compensation payed for lost livestock by predation has in the same time doubled. In 2006 the loss of reindeer claimed by golden eagles exploded from 1000 to 2000, compentaiting the Sami farmers with 26,4 million Norwegian kroners. Reading all of this information leaves it dangerously clear even for me; nobody has, or is yet, including the experts in the discussion in the Norwegian Parliament. Had they actually used the knowledge from the experts, then they would be updated on several things that do not comprehend their action of legalizing to cull as much as what might well be 200 eagles. There are so many actions before killing needs to be an option, one is the fact that, unless documentation can be provided that it is the eagles doing the claimed attacks, the law already states that it is allowed to take it down. It is nationally accepted that eagles may take 2-4% of livestock, and this will be compensated, they do not take more than that, but still the ‘the call of wolf’ continues. Documentation – evidence – work. For many that is a threshold. So the rules are bent, and twists spread like fire. Did you know you can claim in self-defense that a predator was attacking an animal, even though it was just flying or crossing the ground? An eagle soaring over the farm is practically an attack, and farmers support each other for taking such shots whenever the animals cross by. Eagles soar over large territories, if they soar over the wrong farm, it will be their last journey.
I did a presentation in Ireland in fall 2016 on this case at the annual international meeting of http://www.iaf.org to raise awareness as Norway seems to not take into consideration either publishing much info in English, or thinking that this is a case of international concern. International conservationists are deeply concerned about the lack of information to take such extreme decisions as by culling. Not to mention, some of these eagles migrate to Sweden, what about the Swedish protection law? The golden eagle population is a success conservation story, together with the Norwegian peregrine, which also almost became extinct due to the earlier predator persecution.
My worry now is, is the cull officially on, why are there no official leaks of the processes, is the killing going ‘under the raider’ to prevent international rage?
Short, worrying facts:
It became official in June 2016 that killing golden eagles will take place in Northern Norway as a ‘test project’ to manage the population.
Livestock animals die of many other reasons than predatory attacks, but claims by predation will give a good profit for lost animals.
The golden eagle population is finally stable after rising form ‘the ashes’ as a result of the predator persecution that started 200 years ago.
Only about 4/5 of the population is breeding.
The breeding pairs have very few young, often only one chick, and experts calculate that within the next 30-50 years, the golden eagle population will sink to half of the estimated numbers, leaving it endangered once again.
The killing of golden eagles will be aimed in late spring, when the golden eagles breed themselves. Killing of one, or both adult eagles, will leave the eagle chick to starvation and death, breaking the animal ethics on welfare as this is human involvement.
Support our Norwegian Eagles before we need conservation actions, sign the petition:
PHOTO OF WTHITE-TAILED EAGLE: LINDA BJØRGAN via NRK