Flu has an impact on the largest bird of prey in the UK

Eagle with a white tail

The largest bird of prey in the UK, the white-tailed sea eagle, is believed by conservationists to be suffering from avian flu.

According to NatureScot, new research indicates that the percentage of eagles raising young in Scotland has decreased from 67 percent in 2021 to 45 percent last year.

According to the government organization, it was possible that the raptors had eaten infected birds or caught them while scavenging.

It claimed that the golden eagle, another sizable raptor, was also in pain.

It was discovered that from 48 percent in 2021 to 28 percent, fewer golden eagle pairs were found to be raising young.

The Western Isles' Lewis and Harris had the biggest eagle population declines ever observed.

According to analysis, white-tailed eagles' breeding success decreased from 66 percent to 24 percent, and that of golden eagles from 55 percent to 16 percent.

Data from the Scottish Raptor Monitoring Scheme were used in the study by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).

Seabird populations along Scotland's coast have been drastically reduced by avian flu, including those of skuas in Shetland and gannets on Bass Rock.

The first cases of the bird flu in raptors were discovered in November 2021, and by April 2022, a number of species had tested positive.

Scotland still has healthy eagle populations, but these findings are very alarming, according to John Allan, NatureScot's ornithology advisor.

"So far this year, we've had fewer positive test results among raptors than last year, but it's still early in the season, so we can't relax.

"In order to determine whether breeding success starts to increase, we plan to rerun this analysis in 2023. ".

According to Mark Wilson, acting head of science for BTO Scotland, avian flu can kill both adult and nestling raptors, according to laboratory tests on the virus in dead birds of prey.

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