Lasers Planned to Foil Raptor Attacks
Scotland will be one of the first countries in the world to use laser beams to stop endangered raptors from killing baby lambs.
Plans to use laser beams to scare white-tailed sea eagles away from flocks of sheep are being discussed in Argyll.
Rather than being directed at the birds themselves, laser light would be directed at hills and countryside around flocks of sheep, in the hope of scaring birds away and protecting sheep from predation.
David Colthart, a farmer and chairman of the Argyll and Lochaber Sea Eagle Stakeholder Group, told BBC Radio Scotland’s John Beattie programme that not all sea eagles were a problem, but some juvenile birds did prey on lambs.
Mr Colthart went on to say that if the laser trial was successful it could be rolled out under licence to other areas where eagles were causing problems.
Ross Lilley, the Sea Eagle Project manager for Scottish Natural Heritage, acknowledged the “serious concerns” of farmers and crofters about the impact of sea eagles on livestock. He said: “At this point, no trials on laser-scaring deterrents for sea eagles have been undertaken.
“They are under consideration along with other options. A carefully monitored trial will be critical to make sure lasers are a safe and effective method before we proceed any further.”
Crofters and farmers in the Highlands and Islands have complained for a number of years about the large birds of prey taking young livestock. In a compensation scheme for sheep producers paid for lambs lost to the eagles.
According to Mr Colthart, a contractor would carry out the trials. Scottish Natural Heritage said any trial would be “carefully monitored”.
Sea eagles are the UK’s largest bird of prey and one of its most protected species.
In addition to the laser trial, other techniques including audio scaring devices and felling trees where the birds nest near areas with sheep are also being discussed. Scottish Natural Heritage is working with other organisations, including Forest Enterprise Scotland, on the trials.