A YOUNG golden eagle is thought to have been killed just seven miles from the Scottish Parliament, and its body dumped in the North Sea.

The eagle, named Fred, hatched at a nest site in the Borders in 2017, and was the offspring of the only breeding pair in the region.

Named after the landowner’s grandson, Fred was satellite-tagged in June in a project involving television presenter and naturalist Chris Packham and Dr Ruth Tingaym of Raptor Persecution UK, designed to follow the birds’ movements.

It was hoped the protected raptor would go on to increase the vulnerable breeding population in the Borders, but it disappeared last month in highly suspicious circumstances in the Pentland Hills, just seven miles from Holyrood.

Its tag “suddenly and inexplicably stopped” on January 21, only to resume transmissions three days later when the raptor’s GPS location was shown to be in the North Sea, 10 miles offshore from St Andrews in Fife.

Campaigner Packham described the loss so close to the seat of Scottish Government as “shocking” and expressed fears for the reintroduction of the species to the south of Scotland.

He said: “What’s truly shocking about this case is it didn’t take place in a remote Highland glen miles from anywhere, but in a stone’s throw of Edinburgh, right under the noses of the Scottish Government.”