How many Golden Eagles are there?

Formerly, Golden Eagles were to be found right across Europe, even outside the mountainous regions. During the second half of the 19th Century, there was a wave of persecution against nearly all large predatory animals. Species such as the Bearded Vulture, and also the Wolf and the Brown Bear, were decimated or completely exterminated in many European countries. The eagles were shot, or killed with gin traps or with poisoned bait, and the young were taken from their nests. Because of this persecution, and also because of great changes to the landscape, the Golden Eagle populations in Europe, just as in many other parts of the world, went into steep decline. However, in the first half of the 20th Century, a slow change began to take place in the way that people thought: Predators such as the Golden Eagle began to be recognised as integral components of their environment and were to be protected. Today, in those areas where the eagles have survived and where their habitat is still intact, populations are stable, and in some cases have even begun to grow.


The present total population of Golden Eagles in Austria is only roughly known. It is estimated that there is a minimum of 260 to 360 breeding pairs (BirdLife International 2004). The population is presently seen as stable.


The number of Golden Eagles in Italy is estimated to be between 476 and 541 breeding pairs (BirdLife International 2004). The population in the Apenines appears to be declining, but the alpine population appears stable.

The Alps

In the entire chain of the European Alps it is estimated that there are about 1,200 breeding pairs of Golden Eagles. Additional to this there is an unknown number of unpaired and young birds. It is thought that the Golden Eagle populations in the area of the Alps are stable and that all suitable habitat is inhabited. However, this situation could quickly change as soon as any disturbances occur in the territories or if hunting the birds were to be allowed again. Detailed monitoring of the populations as for example within the bounds of this project is one of the most important requirements for an efficient protection of the Golden Eagle in the Alps.


For all of Europe (including the former Eastern Block countries and the European part of Russia) it maybe estimated that there are between 8,400 and 11,000 breeding pairs (BirdLife International 2004).

Natural Population Regulation

Golden Eagles, in defending their territories, prevent intruding individuals of their own species from obtaining an optimal diet. This may directly increase mortality within the population or, alternatively, it may cause the intruding individuals to migrate long distances away from the area. Together these form an important self-regulatory mechnism for the Golden Eagle populations. Conversely, the frequent squabbles between territory-defending birds and intruding individuals means that the brood cannot be cared for in an optimal manner and thus breeding success may be reduced.

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