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Dublin: 12 °C Thursday 23 October, 2014

“Momentous” eaglet births greeted with concern from farmers

The first white-tailed eagle chicks have been born in Ireland after 100 years – but the Irish Farmers’ Association is calling for more monitoring.

WHITE-TAILED EAGLES soaring the skies could soon become a common sight with the successful birth of two eaglets after a 100-year absence from Ireland.

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.

Concern

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.
IFA Kerry spokesman, James McCarthy, acknowledged the progress made by the eagle trust but said the birds need to be monitored more closely to avoid threats to flocks.

“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.”

Read: Eagles make Clare their new nest after 100-year wait >

Read: White-tailed eagles found poisoned in Co Cork >

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