Knowledge is missing in the eagle discussion.

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 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 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:

More on this on my blog, is Norway breaking the Bern Convention?  The Rise and Fall of the Golden Eagle in Norway.

For more info, check out BirdLife Norway, or on Facebook.



Illegal golden eagle hunt is out of control in Sweden.

In June last year Norway decided to start a cull of golden eagles in the North of the country sometime in spring 2017. Shortly after, motions were set in Sweden to try to do the same, but this proposition was rejected by the authorities. However, it has not stopped the killing in Sweden, it just goes on illegally. On top of this the current focus is also on predator conflict of another kind, wolves. It has become a heated debate on many levels, but such cases still needs more international attention. We need public awareness, and we need to keep the ordinary protection of our wildlife so it does not fall under long term effect for both population and ecosystem.

Nine of ten golden eagles die in Sweden because of people. Recently four golden eagles were run over by car, and bodies of golden eagles are found full of shotgun hail. A golden eagle family was found killed, peppered by gunshots. The problem is growing, and dark numbers will follow. Other fatal problems are by new windmill parks, lead poisoning in food, trees with nests cut down an electrocution. In Norrland in Sweden, a place where golden eagles nest, the population has sunk the last 15 years and this does not look good for the future. Info from Swedish News.

While we wait here in Norway to see which direction the culling of golden eagles take, as reports and recommendations from Norwegian ornithologist are set aside, and this is the lowest of predation in a decade; the cull has become a political play in the ever so strong livestock keeping.  With the rate of the breeding decline of golden eagles, if it does not increase, the current stable population will fall by 50% within the next 10-20 years.

If you want to help, please share information about culling of golden eagles in Scandinavia; driven by a political game and from illegal approach due to fear of golden eagles taking livestock. More animals (sheep) die of giving birth to young than get taken by golden eagles. Please check my blog for earlier posts on the eagle situation in Norway.

Waiting for the golden eagle cull in Norway

Norsk nedenfor:

The last months after the announcement of the culling of golden eagles in Norway has been very quiet. What is happening, when is it happening, and mostly, how could it happen? 

Allowing to shoot golden eagles in Northern Norway caused a worldwide attention in June this year, towards a country which is well known and appraised for its beautiful wilderness. And shortly after, Norway also announced the culling of up to 70% of the wolves as well. The wolf culling caught on like fire, wolves are and will always be a favorable icon of the wild, and the support for them came quicker than for the eagles. Nevertheless, there is great worry of the predator politics in Norway, mostly because; scientific data does not support the claims of lost livestock. Furthermore, it is easier to get compensation by claiming predation. The very interesting yet disturbing news about livestock compensation is that while compensation has grown by passing 50 million Norwegian kroners (50% increase the last 10-12 years), the numbers of scientific predations by golden eagles (from 2015-2016) has declined by almost 50 %, all this information is possible to check at Rovdata, Norwegian Large Predatory Monitoring Program.

I had a presentation at a conference in Ireland in mid-November about the latest update on the golden eagle situation in Norway, based on fact and reports, and an international interests on conservation of birds of prey displayed great concern. Handling a finally steady eagle population by rifle management as first priority was very much what should have been the outcome of last by others. I will present these solutions later. Among the people at the conference were important and highly respectable persons within raptor conservation, namely Kent Carnie and Tom Cade from the Peregrine Fund, with whom I was honored to meet.

What is next? Early in November it was official stated that golden eagles predate far less than ‘firstly assumed’, which again shows a worrying state on behalf of the decision made by the Norwegian Parliament. According to the request of when farmers loose most livestock is in early summer, a time when the eagles themselves nest. I have stated this before, to open up for shooting golden eagles before they attack and also while they have young themselves, is unethical and an act against the animal welfare of the young golden eagles regarding protection and starvation. This is the situation that earlier reports emphasize; if the current situation of breeding golden eagles decrease, by 30 years the population will decline by half. Making it far below the stated national numbers.

Norsk tekst under bildene:


De siste månedene etter at det ble annonsert at det ville bli jakt på kongeørn i Norge, så hard et vært veldig stille rundt saken. Hva skjer nå, når vil noe skje, og mest av alt, hvordan kunne dette skje?

Da det i juni i år ble godkjent for å åpne for jakt på kongeørn nord i Norge, skapte dette store internasjonal bekymringer. Norge er kjent for å ha vakker natur og rikt dyreliv. Kort tid etter ble det også annonsert at det ble godkjent jakt på 70 % av ulvebestanden i tillegg. Å jakte på ulv gikk som varm hvetebrød, ulver er ikoniske for vill natur, og det kom både større og sterke støtt for dem enn for kongeørnene. Uansett, så er det mye bekymring rundt rovdyrpolitikken i Norge, mest fordi, den vitenskapelige registreringen for predasjon stemmer ikke med tallene for mistet tamdyr (sau og rein). Det er interessant men også forstyrrende å se at tallene for kompensering av disse dyrene har stege til over 50 millioner norske kroner (økt med ca 50% de siste 10-12 årene), og tallene fra angrep av kongeørn har redusert til halvparten siden 2015-2016. All denne informasjonen kan hentes fra

Jeg hadde en presentasjon på en konferanse i Irland i midten av november om kongeørnsituasjonen i Norge. Alt var basert på rapporter og fakta, og den internasjonale interessen for bevaring og konservering av rovfugler viste stor bekymring. Ved å håndtere en endelig og stabil bestand av kongeørn ved å skyte dem skulle vært siste alternativ. Det finnes andre, noe jeg vil nevne senere. Blant dem tilstede på konferansen var høyt anerkjente og respekterte personer som Kent Carnie og Tom Cade fra the Peregrine Fund, og en ære å møte.

Hva skjer nå? Tidlig i november ble det annonsert at kongeørnen i Norge gjør langt mindre skade enn antatt, det gjør det enda mer fortvilende at Stortinget godkjente dette. Skadene og tapene av dyr er størst tidlig på sommeren, når ørnene selv hekker. Jeg har sagt dette før, men å åpne for jakt på kongeørn før fuglen viser tegn til angrep og selv har ørnunger, er uetisk. Det bryter med loven om dyrevelferd at unge ørner mister en eller begge av sine foreldre, og blir dermed utsatt selv for predasjon eller sult. Videre har det seg at om den nåværende ørnebestanden ikke tar seg opp i hekkingen, vil bestanden om 30 år halveres. Da vil tallene synke godt under de nasjonale tallene Norge har satt for å ha en bærekraftig kongeørnbestand.

– Ellen

Sheep farmers tired of golden eagles

Early this summer the Norwegian Parlament approved a culling of golden eagles in Norway. Why? In favor of livestock economy.

However, this does not stop here. Ever since the rise of the eagle population, farmers have been the largest threat for them, claming them to be too many and out of control. There are laws for taking out eagles doing damage, but just now farmers want to take matters in their own hands by using necessity, meaning a way of justification for breaking the law. How will they do that? They have somehow managed to claim a no flight zone under 35 meter above ground level for eagles in their municipality. Giving them, or so they think, justification to kill an eagle before a real attack. In the end of the article it becomes clear that Fitjar sheep and goats society actually promoto others to use necessity as a false claim as a way to kill an eagle, because you can technically get away with illegal killing..

I want to spread this information to make people aware of the bad predator politics and relationships in Norway, and am afraid this is just the top of the ice berg we will be hearing in near future regarding ways of culling golden eagles across the entire country. It is already documentet in a bird ringing atlas that only 5% of golden eagles die of natural causes in Norway, and that 47% are shoot, meaning illegal killing is a concerning problem. Future golden eagle population will start to decline within the next 30 years if the eagles do not get a stable production of eggs and chicks. The only concern made by political representatives in Norway, is that the regulated population will stick to the estimated goal, and not break any international conventions. They say that, but what will actually happen within the future might in fact result in serious conservation issuses. And there is still too little focus on eagle predation and understanding golden eagle behavior in Norway.

Please read the translated version below:

Information from Sunnhordaland newspaper below. Photo by Jan Rabben.

”The golden eagle takes lambs in Fitjar” is the headline of the article, and continues: Fitjar sheep and goats have decided on a complete flight restriction zone in the  entire municipality.

With immediate effect from today Fitjar sheep and goats have introduced a ‘no flight zone’ for golden eagles that fly below 35 meters above ground level. Golden eagles that attack lambs will be killed without any advance notice.

In Fitjar there is at least one eagle pair that has specialized in taking lambs. The photo in the article (above) is from the eagle’s nest this summer, and shows that the eagles have brought lambs to the nest many times. (?)

Fitja sheep and goats wish to live alongside nature, where also the golden eagle can obtain its important role. However, we cannot accept that certain individuals manage to destory the foundation of managing livestock. With the focus on animal welfare we cannot accept that the pain and agony inflicted on the lambs by the eagle. We have a joined responsibility to uphold this. Eagle problems has been a massive media case for several years.

Showing (…) to posts in the local newspaper ‘from one sheep farmer in Bømlo . The authority has received so much information on the case,  that there is no longer doubt that it is the eagle that is behind this. Getting approved lisences has been sought after, but without result . Sheep farmers sit with binders full of papers without getting any solutions for solving the case problem. Fitjar sheep and goats urge now that sheep farmers resolve those problem locally and on a low level without involving any kind of bureaucracy. The Supreme Court gave in 2014 a sheep farmer support and approval of using necessity if predators attacked sheep or lambs . It is this law we now want to make full use off.

Sheep farmers must know that to use necessity, it is restricted to these situations:

* Killing can only happen if predators chase, is about to attack or is attacking livestock, reindeer , pigs , dogs and poultry.

* There is a demand for a clear and objective understanding for why the predator is attacking . Objectively speaking the attack is over when the animal ( ex. sheep)is dead . The necessity may therefore only be executed as long as the attacked animal ( ex. sheep) is alive.

With these criteria at base, you have a good starting point to be absolved in a subsequent criminal proceeding. After killing an eagle with necessity you must immediately notify the police. Here you will get first hand priority.  

This can still work as a deterrent, but rememeber that you acted out of necessity for your animals and your responsibilities for animal welfare . Fitjar sheep and goats want to help each sheep farmer who needs help in a demanding investigation . It is hard to stand alone against state power with all the resources accessible .

End of article