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Scientists unravel golden eagle genome
Golden eagles are native to the remote moorlands and mountains of Scotland.
Study could aid recovery of endangered bird

Researchers at the Wellcome Sanger Institute are conducting a study which could help golden eagles return to areas where they have disappeared.

According to a report by BBC News, researchers at the Institute are sequencing the genome of the golden eagle because of the value of its genetic information to conserve the birds.

The study forms part of a project titled '25 Genomes for 25 Years', which aims to sequence 25 novel genomes representing UK biodiversity.

Lead scientist Dr Rob Ogden from the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute told BBC News that this “blueprint for life" would aid the management of the species.

"Having a whole genome for any species is a real game-changer," he said. "It opens up a huge amount of potential research - everything from looking at the health of the bird to the ecology, to how it reproduces - and so this is the beginning of a much bigger journey into golden eagle biology.

"In future, we want to be able to screen wild birds to select the best birds to move around."

Golden eagles are native to the remote moorlands and mountains of Scotland. Although they do not have any natural predators, research shows that humans are largely responsible for their decline.

In 2008, a study by Scottish Natural Heritage found a strong association between poisoning of golden eagles and land managed for driven grouse shooting. The study found that just three of 16 regions in western Scotland had stable or expanding golden eagle populations. 

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RSPCA braced for ‘hectic hedgehog month’

News Story 1
 The RSPCA says that it is bracing itself for a ‘hectic hedgehog month’ after calls to the charity about the creatures peaked this time last year.

More than 10,000 calls about hedgehogs were made to the RSPCA’s national helpline in 2018, 1,867 of which were in July. This compares with just 133 calls received in February of the same year.

Evie Button, the RSPCA’s scientific officer, said: “July is our busiest month for hedgehogs. Not only do calls about hedgehogs peak, but so do admissions to our four wildlife centres as members of the public and our own officers bring in orphaned, sick or injured animals for treatment and rehabilitation.” 

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ASF traces found in seized meat at NI airport

More than 300kg of illegal meat and dairy products were seized at Northern Ireland’s airports in June, DAERA has revealed.

A sample of these were tested at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, resulting in the detection of African swine fever DNA fragments.

DAERA said that while the discovery does not pose a significant threat to Northern Ireland’s animal health status, it underlines the importance of controls placed on personal imports of meat and dairy products. Holidaymakers travelling overseas are being reminded not to bring any animal or plant products back home.