I have read accounts and watched video footage of Golden Eagles tackling prey much larger than themselves- for example large deer and even Wolves. I dont think there are any accounts of Golden Eagles hunting humans (?) but in your professional opinion could a Golden Eagle pose a serious danger to an adult, I.e could it successfully hunt and kill a human?

Hi Steven,

Thanks for the question but no, a golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos is far too small to tackle something the size of a full grown human (or even a bijou human, like a child!). They generally tackle the 'larger small mammals', such a rabbits or hares (technically, "Lagomorphs", rather than rodents (rats and mice)), as well as some birds, including a variety of waders (like redshank, golden plover), as well as grouse and other game bird species etc. but generally, in much lower numbers than their typical mammal prey.

At the realms of possibility, an unaccompanied (very small) child on a moor inhabited by golden eagles without a 'normal supply' of food *could* be at some risk from a golden eagle (or any other predator, like a fox) but there are no confirmed kills, at least in the UK, as far as I am aware of (dehydration and exposure are the big killers for humans in these kinds of situations!!). Tackling deer and wolves is soooo not a UK experience (except maybe red deer in the Highlands of Scotland)! It may occur in NA and some parts of Europe but; for wolves, it is more likely to be a scare tactic to ensure prey dominance of a carcass and for deer, much more of a 'scare and hope' tactic to see if they fall off something high!

Similar myths are promulgated about large avian predators, like the white-tailed sea-eagle, taking lambs, pets and even children but again, there are no confirmed reports of any of these events made by specialists (i.e people who's identification of the creature is beyond dispute).

The point being that, in the UK, these (and most other raptor species) are highly monitored by a (relatively) huge number of volunteers and staff. If there was ever a threat to human life, I'm pretty sure that 1) someone would intervene and 2) if it was impossible to save a human life, we'd have more dependable records as to this behaviour (which doesn't exist!).

Short answer: there is no credible threat to human life from any native British species!

There are some videos online of large eagles basically knocking sheep off of cliffs (grabbing them with their feet and then flapping hard to pull them off the edge) and then flying down to feed, but here they are animals already on the edge of cliffs or on steep and narrow rocky slopes (not the kind of places humans generally hang around on) and plenty of people weight more than a sheep and would have their arms they can try to fight off such an attack. As such, while it's just about possible, as noted above I'd be amazed if they even tried it (summing unaware people were standing on cliff edges with nowhere to go) and then they would likely give up as people were too heavy and fought back too much.