The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, along with the Golden Eagle Trust, today confirmed two chicks hatched in counties Kerry and Clare in the last week.
However, the news is being treated with caution by the Irish Farmers’ Association, who are concerned the influx of birds of prey could have consequences for lamb flocks.
The eaglet births in Killarney National Park and in Mountshannon in Clare are the first since the State-funded reintroduction project began in 2007. Both sets of breeding eagles came from Norway and were part of a scheme which saw the introduction of more than 100 birds. However, 27 birds have been found dead and poisoning has been suspected on a number of occasions.
Minister Deenihan said: “This is a momentous occasion in that we are now witnessing the first white-tailed eagles born in the wild in Ireland in over 100 years.”
The principal aim of this project is to re-establish a viable breeding population of white-tailed eagles and today’s events are a big step towards achieving that goal.
Pic: Valerie O’Sullivan
Golden Eagle Trust project manager, Allan Mee, said the news had caused great excitement locally but stressed that the eaglets are at an early stage of development and should not be approached.
“We are very conscious of the risk of disturbing the birds especially at this stage of nesting,” he said.
I would stress that it is an offence under the Wildlife Acts to willfully disturb white-tailed eagles at the nest. We would caution people not to approach the nest area.
“If something happens to an eagle they have a transponder on it so they can track it and bring it to the State laboratory and do all sorts of forensic tests,” McCarthy said.
“But an eagle does something to a lamb – the lamb will never be found and you have to prove it is an eagle rather than something else. So the thing is totally unbalanced against the farmer. With the increase in population there has to be some monitoring of predation of eagles on farmers’ flocks.”