Emma Marris thoughtfully explores the complicated relationship between eagles and farmers on the rugged Isle of Mull. The eagle’s beauty brings tourists, but their talons kill lambs. Should they stay or go? The farmers may be despondent, but Marris describes this rewilding conflict with passion.
This pair of eagles have raised several chicks in years past. A local sheep farmer named Jamie Maclean had complained that they were raising their chicks on a steady diet of his newborn lambs, which are born in spring, just as chicks hatch. And so, with Sexton’s help, the Scottish government agreed to pay for some “diversionary feeding.” Maclean would buy fish from a local fishmonger—at retail prices—with government money, and then put them out for the eagles to eat. The idea was that with the free fish rolling in, they’d leave the lambs alone.