News Article15/10/2020

Returning Eagles to Wales

We are (hopefully) not far away from seeing the fruits of our Osprey Translocation Project here on the South Coast. Meanwhile, other reintroductions are being planned and carried out across the UK...

© Eagle Reintroduction Wales

We want to draw attention to an exciting project happening in Wales, where a feasibility study is being conducted for the reintroduction of the Golden Eagle and White-Tailed Eagle by Eagle Reintroduction Wales. Led by Cardiff University, working with the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and Wildlife Trust Wales, there are hopes for the restoration of these two species, both of which have been missing as breeding birds from the Welsh landscape for over 150 years. The team are working hard to engage with various communities across Wales, spreading the word about the potential for eagle reintroductions, as well as furthering education about the two species. Through researching the suitability of landscape for the species in present times the project is building the foundations and evidence required for the translocation of these species.

White-tailed Eagle, from the Eagle Reintroduction Wales website

For many people, their vision of eagles always features a mountainous backdrop, with a dramatic landscape to match the dynamism of the birds. The two UK species actually have the potential to be far more widespread, not just being confined to the mountains, in particular White-tailed Eagles. However, their population numbers have been severely impacted, much like the Ospreys, through persecution and pesticide-use.

The White-Tailed Eagle, although not having a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP), has a UK Species Action Plan, which involves the restoration of the species in suitable areas. Having previously been extinguished in the the UK, the current population was, and continues to be, rebuilt through a series of translocation projects. The recolonisation of these raptors has boosted eco-tourism in Scotland, capturing people’s imaginations, whether they are well-seasoned wildlife watchers or beginners just starting out. The feasibility study seeks to provide evidence for the suitability of the Welsh landscape for these birds, which would allow for another translocation project, echoing the current work on the Isle of Wight. Golden Eagles do not currently have a BAP, which means that a translocation project is not yet feasible, which is why the research that the project is conducting is of high importance. Without this research, the prospect of returning Golden Eagles to their previous breeding grounds will be a long way off.

Golden Eagle, from the Eagle Reintroduction Wales website

Of course, it’s not just people in Wales who will see the benefit of this project and the return of these species. As we’ve seen with the Isle of Wight reintroduction, these birds have the capabilities to range far and wide, adding excitement to birdwatching across the country. For us, it won’t be long until White-tailed Eagles are a regular(ish) sight in Poole Harbour, we may even see them breeding here in the future. By boosting eco-tourism and restoring two magnificent species that can spark inspiration and a love for the UK’s wildlife, this project has the potential to have huge impact. The project has faced major financial setbacks due to Covid-19, and are crowdfunding to cover the employment of their research assistant and continue the work of the project. With a matter of days before their fundraising deadline, we hope that Eagle Reintroduction Wales are able to gain the support that they deserve. You can donate through their Crowdfunder here and more information can be found on the Eagle Reintroduction Wales website:

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