AMAZING pictures to show a sea eagle flying off with a newborn lamb clutched in its talons.
The images of the lamb being carried to its death have reignited the long-running row between farmers and conservationists about the controversial reintroduction of the eagles to Scotland.
The birds were successfully reintroduced in 1975 despite warnings from farmers they would take large numbers of lambs.
Rosie Robinson snapped a white-tailed sea eagle – which has a wing span of around 2.5m (8ft) – flying over North Connel, Argyll and Bute with a lamb in its claws.
The huge bird can be seen grasping the lamb as its chased through the air by what appears to be a buzzard.
Crofters believe that the birds are becoming as “common as crows” and feel the problems will only get worse as they have no problem snatching lambs even with houses nearby.
Lochaber farmer Colin Cameron, 47, has lost lambs over the years to eagles and told a local newspaper about a recent attack he’d suffered.
He said: “One lamb was killed but the other has a hole in its side after a sea eagle tried to take it.
“It is still alive as I had to feed it through a tube three times a day. It is on penicillin to stop any infection so I can’t let it outside but generally we don’t find any alive.
“The numbers of these birds are increasing and it’s a major issue now, not just at lambing but all through the summer.”
He continued: “There needs to be some sort of control as these birds are becoming as common as crows and we need to get the public’s backing over this.
“People think we are just money-grabbing farmers, but we do everything we can to keep our sheep healthy and we don’t like to see this happening to the poor lambs.”
David Coltart, chairman of the Argyll and Lochaber Sea Eagle Stakeholder Group, said: “Hill lambs are easy targets to a large predator like the sea eagle and there are reports where adult sheep and ewe hoggs have been attacked.
“In 2014 there was a joint statement of intent between the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) which in turn led to the creation of local stakeholder groups.
“The agreement also committed SNH to a sea eagle action plan and it has a dedicated officer working this.
“Participating in the scheme is the only route we currently have to try and reduce predation on stock.”
A SNH spokesman said: “White-tailed eagles are protected by law. Given their presence occasionally conflicts with livestock rearing, we are working hard with farmers, crofters and conservationists to minimise any impacts.
“We are collectively trying to devise means of reducing risks of lambs being taken live.”