Hopes soar as seven pairs of white-tailed eagles lay eggs
The first white-tailed eagle chick of 2014 has appeared in Mountshannon, Co Clare, but one hatched near Glengarriff, Co Cork, has died.
The Golden Eagle Trust along with the National Parks and Wildlife Service yesterday confirmed at least seven pairs of white-tailed eagles have laid eggs, with hatching possibilities yet to be confirmed in remote areas of Kerry and Connemara.
The Mountshannon breeding pair created history last year when they reared the first chicks to fly from a nest in Ireland in over 100 years.
One of the chicks was, earlier this year, found shot dead in the Lough Derg area of Co Tipperary. The incident was seen as a setback to the breeding project.
However, a new nesting pair at Glengarriff, Co Cork, was the first to hatch chicks this year, in late April, but the breeding efforts of this pair along with a pair nesting in Killarney National Park failed, probably due to a combination of poor weather and inexperience.
Hopes are high that the Mountshannon pair and others around the country will successfully raise chicks that will go on to form the basis of a viable eagle population in Ireland.
These are the latest chicks of the high-profile, white-tailed eagle reintroduction programme in which 100 young Norwegian eagles were released in Killarney National Park, between 2007 and 2011.
Some of the birds have flown as far as Scotland and Northern Ireland and, to date, 29 have died, mainly due to illegal poisoning.
Dr Allan Mee, manager of the white-tailed eagle project on behalf of the Golden Eagle Trust, yesterday said the increase in the number of pairs nesting was “really encouraging” and bode well for the future of the species.
“Last year’s successful nesting in Clare was a milestone for the species recovery in Ireland. Ultimately, the viability of the reintroduced programme depends on these chicks going on to breed themselves in Ireland. Each step brings us closer to that goal,” he added.
John Harvey, chairman of Mountshannon Community Council, said visitors had travelled from far and wide to Mountshannon to see the nesting eagles.
“We would ask everyone to respect all our wildlife and give these magnificent birds a chance to nest and their young to survive to breed in the future,” he said.
Heritage Minister Jimmy Deenihan said it was a great development in the project to bring back such magnificent birds of prey to Ireland.
“The breeding pair at Mountshannon gives the general public an opportunity to see one of the most spectacular birds in this country at close quarters.
“They have proven to be a benefit to the local economy and I am confident that the continued presence of the Eagles will lead to a growth in sustainable tourism in the area.”
Meanwhile, Norwegian ambassador Roald Næss said: “This is an excellent example of international cooperation on a practical level, aiming at preserving nature and biodiversity for the benefit of future generations.”
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