New satellite tags could make 'real difference' in fight against wildlife crime

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 25 March 2019 in News

Young golden eagles living around the Cairngorms National Park will be tagged with the new devices as part of an 18-month trial

Image credit: SNH

An innovative new type of satellite tag for raptors could make “a real difference” in the fight against wildlife crime, according to Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham.

Young golden eagles living around the Cairngorms National Park will be tagged with the new devices as part of an 18-month trial aimed at providing key information on movements and behaviour, as well as illegal killing.

The new raptor tracker tags use the ‘geostationary Iridium’ satellite network to ensure signal information is always available, while they can also send a ‘distress’ signal, with an exact location, back to base if unusual behaviour is detected.

This early warning system has the added benefit of helping to rapidly identify and recover birds which have died.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “This is great news for improving our understanding of eagle behaviours, and in the fight against wildlife crime. The tags should make a real difference in deterring would-be criminals, as well as playing a key role in establishing exactly what happened, should any of these magnificent birds of prey disappear or die in unusual circumstances.”    

Conservation groups will look to extend use of the tags if the trial proves successful, while also examining the potential miniaturisation of the technology to allow similar tagging of Hen Harriers and other species.

Robbie Kernahan, head of wildlife management, of Scottish Natural Heritage added: “This exciting new technology will give us new information on the movements of these iconic birds. This should also be a significant deterrent to anyone thinking of persecuting raptors, as we will have detailed information on birds’ movements in the minutes leading up to their death.”

The recently launched Cairngorms Nature Action Plan 2019-2023 aims to improve raptor conservation and tackle wildlife crime.

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