TWO Golden Eagles have vanished in “suspicious circumstances” on the same grouse moor in Perthshire.

The young satellite-tagged raptors, named Adam and Charlie, vanished in April on the Auchnafree estate in Strathbraan, within hours of each other.

The birds were being monitored by Chris Packham and Dr Ruth Tingay of Raptor Persecution UK as part of a wider study.

The eagles’ satellite tags, which had been working perfectly well, suddenly and inexplicably stopped. Despite a Police Scotland search of the area, both the tags and the eagles have since been untraceable.

Adam had been named and adopted by Green MSP Andy Wightman in June 2018.

On her Raptor Persecution Blog Tingay said the “circumstances of their disappearances, in a region previously identified as a raptor persecution hotspot, are virtually identical to the suspicious disappearances of more than 50 satellite-tagged eagles in Scotland, as revealed in a Government-commissioned report published in 2017.”

Chris Packham said: “We can’t prove that harm has come to Adam and Charlie, nor who might have been responsible, but we can look at the circumstances, look at the science, look at the wider evidence and draw plausible conclusions.

“The Scottish Government has already acknowledged that illegal raptor persecution is an ongoing problem. How many more golden eagles do we have to lose before that same Government takes effective action?”

Wightman, who is the Scottish Parliament’s Species Champion for the golden eagle, named the bird Adam as a tribute to the late ecologist and mountaineer Dr Adam Watson.

He has now written to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, calling for a step up in prevention and detection of wildlife crime.

The MSP said: “The cold rage that I felt when I heard of the circumstances of his disappearance has now developed into a determination to discover his fate.

“This latest outrage should be a wake-up call to the Scottish Government that for all their reviews, inquiries and reforms, rampant criminality remains in place across many of Scotland’s driven grouse moors.

“Today I have written to the First Minister to ask her to provide clear leadership on eradicating wildlife crime, to legislate to outlaw driven grouse-shooting, to meet with myself and raptor workers and to invite the Justice Secretary to convene a high-level meeting of law enforcement officials to review policing and justice measures.”

Alix Whitaker from the Auchnafree Estate said they were "absolutely shocked" to learn of the disappearance.. 

She added: “We have been told by the police that neither the estate nor its staff were involved in their apparent disappearance. No-one knows what has happened to these birds and we would urge anyone with information to make contact with Police Scotland as soon as possible. We have also written to neighbouring estates to ask them to help.

“While the estate owns the land, we let out mixed shooting to tenants who take their wildlife conservation responsibilities very seriously.”

The tenants, Auchnafree Sporting, said: “We see eagles frequently on the estate and have no problem with them. We assisted police with their investigation and wholeheartedly support the appeal for information.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said they were concerned by the disappearance of the birds. 

“We are determined to protect birds of prey and have established an independent group to look at how we can ensure grouse moor management is sustainable and complies with the law.”