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More than a century of hound trailing ends. In better news, success for white-tailed eagles

Good news for eagles, bad news for hound trailers

The new owners of Langholm Moor will no longer allow the sport of hound trailing

Hound trailing ends

More than a century of hound trailing has been brought to an end on Langholm Moor because its new owners will not continue to grant permission.

Devon-based carbon-offsetting company Oxygen Conservation bought Blackburn and Hartsgarth farms in April this year from the Buccleuch Estate, adding nearly 11,500 acres to a growing portfolio across the UK. The company states on its website: “Our commitment [is] to restoring natural processes and ecosystems.”

The company’s founder, Rich Stockdale, told The Eskdale & Liddesdale Advertiser that hound trailing is not consistent with their conservation-based objectives.“Running a group of dogs across the landscape, though I appreciate is important to a small group of people who are passionate about the sport, does untold damage to flora, fauna and fungi,” he said.

George McGimpsey, a keen local houndsman, told the paper he disagreed: “Where we lay the trail, that’s where the hounds go. They don’t run all over, they only go where we pull the rag.”

White-tailed eagles

White-tailed eagles are often called sea eagles due to their diet

White-tailed eagle success

A white-tailed eagle chick has hatched in England for the first time since 1780. The chick is the first offspring from an initial release of 25 birds on the Isle of Wight in 2019. The release has been licensed by Natural England and follows a successful reintroduction programme in the Scottish Highlands, which started in the 1970s.

Roy Dennis, founder of the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation, explained: “Restoring a breeding population in southern England has been our ultimate goal. We knew food for eagles — fish, rabbits, hares and wild birds — was plentiful.”

Shoot managers and gamekeepers may have concerns about the species threatened by Britain’s largest bird of prey, however. A 2022 plan to reintroduce the eagles in Norfolk was shelved due to opposition from farmers and conservationists worried they would predate waders.

In Scotland, where there are now 150 pairs of white-tailed eagles, Jonathan and Daisy Ames from Rothiemurchus Falconry are training two Maremma sheep dogs to protect their flocks from the birds. Mr Ames hopes that if their training project is successful, it could secure funding to help other farmers.

A NatureScot spokesperson said there are schemes to “support holdings affected by sea eagle predation of livestock”.