Rise and fall of the Golden Eagle in Norway

If you have not heard it yet, Norway has just this month approved to cull golden eagles as a pilot project. Why? A human-predator conflict, livestock farmers for sheep- and reindeer have worked to get an approved cull as they fear the golden eagle for undocumented reasons. Golden eagles take the same amount of livestock as in Finland, resulting in between 2-4% which has been registered as acceptable. It is of course sad if a farmer loses an animal, but they get compensation when they can document predation. However, it is difficult to say if these few prosent of dead animals are killed by the eagles or just that they eat these carcasses. Eagles happily clean up an aleady dead animal just like a vulture naturally would do. (Text continues below). Photo via BirdLife Norwaykongeorn

So how can the Norwegian Parlament approve the culling of at least 200 golden eagles? The golden eagle has been protected by law, togheter with other predators, since 1968. There is already a law that states it is possible to take out a predator if there is sufficient documentation that it has become a returning problem. This level of documentation is now withdrawn, giving room for shooting golden eagles before they even attack. It will be allowed to shoot eagles in Northern Norway before regular hunting season. This can hurt golden eagle populations as well, because it can effect the survival of the chicks of breeding pairs. Farmers let their animals give birth outside in May, which is the month registered with most losses. There is a huge lack of insight amongst politicians about predators and raptors, and expert advices from ornithologists is ignored. Even the latest of scientific data has not yet been published by NINA, and in general a bad way to handle a case regarding wildlife management; this is culling. Culling in favor of business tied to sheep and reindeer meat. BildLife has already argued that shooting eagles will not have an impact on the loss of animals, but do they listen?

What can you do? BirdLife Norway is fighting to stop the culling, please sign to show your support against the killing. The golden eagles had a huge bounce back to nature after the predator persecution in Norway that started in 1845, killing over 100.000 golden ealges and sea eagles  before the final protecton was set into action in 1968. Both of these eagles have had a success story regarding conservation situations, but their growing numbers seem to also be their downfall. Anything considered a competition or out of human control can also be looked upon as a pest. And the golden eagle, once adorened in Norse warrior ideology, is now marked as a pest by the government by all the wrong reasons.

I support the protection of all raptors, from the urban peregrines to the shy goshawk and to the now new ‘big, bad wolf’ the golden eagle. Education is key to understand situations, from both sides, but this case is one sided. What about giving guidelines to how and when to release livestock, or, reintroduce sheperds. As the big hunt to kill predators in Norway started over a hundred years ago, there were so few predators left, that farmers started to let there animals walk free. What kind of an animal welfare is this; sheep get stuck, fall down form hills and die while giving birth to lambs. There is so much that can be done than opening a cull.

Opening culling of golden eagles is a huge disaster, and I am afraid about the consequences this will have for the future population.

If you want to support my side campaing for BirdLife on protecting the golden ealges, please sign here.