Police probe launched after golden eagle found dead in Scotland

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A golden eagle, believed to be a part of a project to boost numbers in southern Scotland, was found dead on Saturday.

A police investigation has been launched after a golden eagle, believed to be a part of a project to boost numbers in southern Scotland, was found dead. The eagle was reportedly spotted on the ground on Saturday (February 11) by the gamekeeping team on the Queensberry Estate north of Dumfries.

The bird is understood to be part of the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project (SSGEP).

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Buccleuch - which runs the estate - said the bird had no obvious signs of injury and tests were being carried out to establish the cause of death.

Benny Higgins, executive chairman of Buccleuch, told the BBC: "Buccleuch works closely with the SSGEP in the local area and we are extremely proud of our record in recent years of helping rebuild the population.

"The bird was removed from the site on Saturday and is being tested to understand the cause of death. Our team will continue to offer any assistance it can on this matter."

Police Scotland confirmed it had been informed about the incident. A spokesperson told the BBC: "Around 4.20pm on Saturday, February 11, officers received a report that a golden eagle had been found dead in the Mennock area of Sanquhar. Inquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances."

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Since 2018, the SSGEP has been transferring birds to the region. It began by bringing chicks from the Highlands, but has since begun to introduce adult birds. The population of golden eagles in southern Scotland reached its highest level since the early 19th century last year.

BBC said that there were an estimated thirty birds in a region where there were fewer than five breeding pairs only four years prior.

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