The sight of majestic golden eagles soaring in greater numbers across Borders skies could be possible, claims a major new report.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) says habitat changes could see southern Scotland support as many as 16 breeding pairs of the country’s iconic national bird of prey.
Experts believe no more than three pairs live in the Borders, while only one or two pairs attempt to breed annually in Galloway.
But Professor Des Thompson, of SNH, who led the research, says on-the-ground, practical work to improve habitat in the south of Scotland could have a major impact.
“With habitat improvements, we could see connections with the small reintroduced population in Ireland. This would help both groups of eagles,” he said.
Environment and climate change minister Paul Wheelhouse added: “As a resident of the Scottish Borders, I very much look forward to golden eagles once again becoming a regular sight in our skies.
“We will work hard to ensure that they are given the best possible chance to expand their population and range in the south of Scotland.”
However, the illegal persecution of eagles still poses a threat and RSPB Scotland’s head of investigations, Ian Thomson, has warned: “The poisoning of the female from a breeding pair of golden eagles in Peeblesshire in 2007 drew everybody’s attention to this.
“The poisoning, trapping and shooting of these birds, and other species, simply must stop.”