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Golden eagle soars high as Scotland's number 1 - 01-NOV-2013 : Press Release Details


Golden eagle soars high as Scotland's number 1


SNH and VisitScotland Scotland's Big 5 vote sees public nominate golden eagle as the country's favourite

The golden eagle has overwhelmingly topped the vote in a campaign to find the country's favourite wild animal.

The impressive bird of prey was competing against the red deer, red squirrel, harbour seal and otter. Thousands of votes were recorded online following the campaign launch in spring this year and voting closed yesterday (31 October).

With almost 40 per cent of the vote, the eagle was well ahead of its counterparts. The next closest was the red squirrel with 20 percent, then the red deer and the otter, with the harbour seal in last place.

The campaign was run jointly by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and VisitScotland as part of the Year of Natural Scotland 2013 celebrations.

Environment and Climate Change Minister and PAW Scotland Chairman Paul Wheelhouse said:

"While we can be enormously proud of all our native wildlife, it is fitting that the magnificent golden eagle has topped this poll of Scotland's Big 5' species.

"At present Scotland is home to all of the UK's breeding pairs of golden eagles, and the species has done well to recover after almost being wiped out in the last two centuries. However, recent incidents have shown that the golden eagle is still threatened by illegal persecution in some areas. We have a responsibility to protect this wonderful bird so that future generations can continue to enjoy its presence in our skies."

Scotland's Big 5 were selected because they were all high profile species, widely associated with Scotland, and with a broad geographical spread.

Ian Jardine, SNH chief executive said: "The response to the campaign has been brilliant. Thousands of people have voted for their favourite from Scotland's Big 5 list. There have been several alternative lists put forward for seabirds, game animals, trees and plants, and support for rarer species like the pine marten and wildcat. It has got people thinking about and talking about wildlife, and showing how much affection and pride people have, not just for the five species on the list, but for Scottish wildlife generally."

Through the partnership with SNH, VisitScotland promoted the campaign to millions of potential visitors and where best to see them in their natural environments.

This saw all of Scotland's Big 5 championed through a series of billboard advertisements in Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Alongside this, TV personality Neil Oliver lent his voice to an extensive radio campaign, with written press and online content specially developed throughout the year.

Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, added: "We've been absolutely delighted with the response that Scotland's Big 5 campaign has received, and it has been a cornerstone of our celebrations for the Year of Natural Scotland 2013.

"One of the key pillars of the year was to get as many people here at home out seeing parts of Scotland that they may not have been to before, and the Big 5 campaign has given us a fantastic opportunity to promote even the most remote areas of our wonderful country."



SNH media relations on 0131 316 2659 or (Friday) or 01463 725 020 or (Mon-Thurs).

Airson na meadhanan GÓidhlig cuiribh fios gu / For Gaelic media enquiries contact Emily Macdonald, SNH Inverness, 01463 725 148, See SNH's Gaelic Langauge Plan, approved by B˛rd na GÓidhlig, at


Final vote

Total votes - 12417

Golden Eagle - 4773

Red Squirrel - 2523

Red Deer - 1819

Otter - 1794

Harbour Seal - 725

Other - 783 with the top three being wildcat, pine marten and puffin

The Big 5 all have their nicknames: The Whiskered Diver (otter); the Curious Seadog (harbour seal); the Roaring Monarch (red deer); the Tufted Acrobat (red squirrel) and the High Flyer (golden eagle). They will be featured in a billboard campaign running in England and Scotland, in conjunction with VisitScotland as part of Year of Natural Scotland. A full list of National Nature Reserves and which Big 5 nominee can be seen where is available on request.

Funding - The Scotland's Big 5 campaign is funded by Scottish Natural Heritage, VisitScotland and the Scottish Government.

Scottish Natural Heritage is the government's adviser on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help everyone understand, value and enjoy Scotland's nature now and in the future. For more information, visit our website at SNH media is also now on Twitter at

The Year of Natural Scotland 2013 is a celebration of Scotland's outstanding natural beauty. It's a partnership between the Scottish Government, VisitScotland, EventScotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and a range of public and private sector organisations. For information on events and activities throughout the year, visit

Author: Vicki Mowat
Contact: SNH Press Office