A YOUNG eagle has died after being attacked by another eagle at a reintroduction site in the area.

The South Scotland Golden Eagle Project was set up to reinforce the population of the iconic species in the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.

But after one of the two female eagles released last year (Beaky) returned to the site, it became aggressive towards the young males.

And it the team believes Beaky caused the death of one of the birds – which is now undergoing a post-mortem investigation.

Another young male is missing nearby, while a third has been safely secured in the aviary at the release area.

Des Thompson, a project director, said: "This is distressing and extremely surprising. We have never heard of such incidents before, despite having worked with eagle release projects in other parts of Europe.

"For the project team, and the estates which kindly allowed us to take these male eagle chicks, this is very difficult.

"Our project has been 11 years in the making because it is crucial to ensure everything possible is done to protect the health and wellbeing of these birds.

"Such projects are very challenging, and we are determined for this project to succeed, having involved the best experts in this field to do this, and will share what we learn with other similar projects."

The remaining young golden eagle will now be released at another site.

And a new release site will be secured for Beaky next year.

The project chair, Mark Oddy, added: “This is a really difficult time for the project team and the many supporters in local schools and the wider communities – who have been fantastically supportive.

"This incident is completely unexpected which makes this all the more difficult. We are doing everything we can to ensure the remaining eagle is fit and well.”