By Neale McQuistin

NFU Scotland has written to NatureScot this week demanding that a meaningful suite of actions is rolled out across all areas that continue to be severely impacted by white-tailed eagle predation.

As members of the national sea eagle stakeholder panel and representing farmers and crofters who have endured, in some cases, what is says is decades of predation by white-tailed eagles (WTE), NFU Scotland does not believe enough is being done to address key issues and deliver the white-tailed eagle action plan led by NatureScot.

Martin Kennedy, NFU Scotland president, said; “When the joint agreement with NatureScot and NFU Scotland was reached in 2014, promising action on white-tailed eagles, most farmers and crofters put their faith in it and were optimistic that through careful management of the white-tailed eagle population there would be a balanced, sustainable environment to enable and support both agricultural activity as well as the white-tailed eagles. Our members are frustrated by the lack of progress to date particularly in relation to the management of the birds – we need urgent delivery and implementation of key actions.

“We have learned much about the birds’ predation behaviour through the WTE monitor farms with NatureScot overseeing mitigation trials to try and reduce livestock loss with limited success. NatureScot now needs to apply this knowledge in actively trying to reduce the level of predation on some of the impacted farms and crofts.”

In its letter to NatureScot, NFU Scotland has highlighted the key elements of the action plan that need to be prioritised and progressed under the framework of the revised white-tailed eagle action plan 2021-2024.

Market round-up

Messrs Craig Wilson Ltd sold 433 prime and cast sheep at Newton Stewart yesterday. The small show of 379 prime hoggs was met with the greatest demand ever seen at Newton Stewart and returned an overall average of 317p/kg. Top prices were £160 for heavy Texels and 357p for Beltex. The 250 Blackface hoggs in the sale peaked at £155 and 341p/kg and averaged 317p or £131.

Cast sheep were topped at £179 for Suffolk crosses, while Mules made up to £154 and Blackfaces to £125.

C & D Auctions held their weekly sale of primestock in Dumfries yesterday.

Prime cattle sold to 246p/kg for Limousin cross heifers, while Angus cross heifers peaked at 230p.

Dairy type OTMs sold to 163p and £1303 to average 126p while beef types peaked at 148p and £1,132 to average 139p.

The 350 prime hoggs were a mixed offering which met a huge demand. Top prices were £176 and 333p/kg. There were 170 hoggs in the 39-kilogramme to 45kg weight range which averaged 312p.

The 152 cast sheep sold to £192 for Texel ewes with Blackfaces to £104.