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21 white-tailed eagle chicks released into the wild in Munster

It’s hoped the chicks will bolster the existing white-tailed eagle population in Ireland.

Updated Aug 16th 2021, 4:53 PM

NORWEGIAN-BORN EAGLE chicks have been released into the wild in parts of Munster as part of a programme to re-introduce white-tailed eagles to Ireland. 

21 chicks were released into the wild at four sites over the weekend – on the Shannon Estuary, Lough Derg, Waterford and Killarney National Park. 

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage said it hopes the chicks will bolster the existing white-tailed eagle population.

Staff at the National Parks and Wildlife Service have been taking care of the eagles since they arrived in Ireland from Norway on 25 June. All of the birds took flight upon their release.

The chicks were kept in enclosures while they grew and developed the feathers and muscles needed to fly. 

The department described their release into the wild as a “significant milestone” with the re-introduction of the white-tailed eagles this weekend. 

They have been monitored and tagged by NPWS staff. These tags will allow staff to keep an eye on the progress of the eagles and their integration into the existing population.

Release WT Eagles Killarney5 NPWS workers at the release of the white-tailed eagle chicks.

The department said these birds were once a “conspicuous part of Ireland’s landscape”, but were driven to extinction by human persecution in the late 19th century. 

The ongoing re-introduction programme is a long-term initiative to once again establish a population of this species in Ireland. 

As of last year, the department said at least ten white-tailed eagle pairs hold territory in Ireland with seven pairs in Kerry, and one each in Galway, Tipperary and Cork. 

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100 young eagles were released between 2007 and 2011 in Killarney National Park in Kerry. 

In 2012, the first nesting attempt occurred in Clare, the first breeding of this bird in the wild in over 100 years.

Last year, ten Norwegian chicks were flown into Ireland and released into the wild on the Shannon Estuary and Lough Derg. Nine of these birds are still alive and have travelled throughout the country with one flying to Scotland. 

“Restoring this lost flagship species to Irish skies will be a significant step in restoring Ireland’s natural heritage and will bring great benefit to Irish biodiversity, and in so doing will also contribute significantly to the economic, tourism and local communities – and indeed to human wellbeing,” the department said in a statement. 

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