Flying fibs: RSPB skews tourism figures in favour of birdwatching

The RSPB is trying to ramp up the importance of white-tailed eagles to tourism.

In a new report, the birdwatching organisation says that white-tailed or sea eagles create up to £5 million of tourist spend on the Scottish island of Mull every year. It claims that visitors on Mull looking for sea eagles support 110 jobs each year, and these visitors spend £1.4 million of local income each year.

This has come as a surprise to the people of Mull.

They point out that there is only one charter boat offering sea eagle trips on Mull, it only operates during summer months and it only recently started taking credit cards. There is another land-based sea eagle watching trip, which is supported by the RSPB, also only runs during the summer and does not take credit cards.

Website fo the RSPB-backed Mull sea eagles tour guide, summer season only, no credit cards
Website for local sea eagle charter which, with the other tour guide, is the basis for £5 million-worth of income

The RSPB research fails to recognise that visitors to Mull may have come there anyway, eagles or no eagles. 

The reports seks to greenwash the work of Mull Eagle Watch, a quango run by Forestry Commission Scotland, Nature.Scot, the Mull & Iona Community Trust, Strathclyde Police and the RSPB, and funded by the Scottish taxpayer and the BBC. The eport attibuts part of the breeding success of the poject to ‘farmers and land managers’  who, it says, ‘live and work with white-tailed and golden eagles and the challenges this can sometimes pose to their work’. These challenges include the sea eagles feeding off live lambs. 

The RSPB does not point to the work it undertakes monstering farmers and landowners in the media for what it claims is an epidemic of raptor poisnoning incidents.


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