A desperate attempt by gamekeepers to save an eagle’s life has ended in tragedy.

The drama began when a gamekeeper, working on a Scottish Highlands estate, spotted an eagle struggling in distress while he was out on the hill. He called for assistance and other members of the estate’s gamekeeping team joined the mission to help the bird. The estate’s head keeper who has asked not to be named said: “I came across the eagle which was hobbling slowly in the snow and was clearly in a distressed state. It came to rest in the snow and was immobile. I could see it was highly distressed. On close examination, it was clear that the bird had suffered a very serious blunt traumatic injury with its left wing.”

It is not clear what had happened to injure the bird but severe wing injuries are common for eagles who have collided with objects or been involved in fights. Young eagles, which are trying to establish territories of their own are at particular risk and in recent years there have been increasing reports of golden eagles killed or injured by newly arrived white tailed eagles.

The keepers quietly surrounded and captured the wounded bird which was in no state to put up any resistance. It was gently placed in an all terrain vehicle and brought off the freezing hill as quickly as possible. Once they reached lower ground the team lined the back of an estate vehicle with clean straw and rushed the bird to the nearest vet. Meanwhile the estate office notified the local wildlife crime officer about what was happening.

The head keeper went on: “Along with one of my colleagues, we removed the bird to a local veterinary clinic who very kindly dealt with the matter as an emergency on late Saturday afternoon.

“We took photos and videos of the bird. It was clear it was incapable of flying. We were very sorry to learn that the vet was unable to save it”

This is the third occasion in the last twelve months (of which Shooting Times is aware) in which Scottish gamekeepers have stepped in to try and save a wounded or unwell eagle.