Mountshannon Eagles

Mountshannon Eagles

Home of the White Tailed Sea Eagle on Lough Derg. County Clare. Ireland

threats *


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Dr Allan Mee with a dead White-tailed Sea Eagle in Kerry (c) GET

Although majestic and large in size, the White-tailed Eagle still faces a number of distinct threats. In recent years other breeding populations of Eagles in mainland Europe have fallen due to wind turbines and power cables. To date, no Irish birds have suffered this fate, however, there are other more sinister, less obvious dangers that threaten our growing populations of reintroduced species. White-tailed Eagles are apex predators, therefore, they tend to experience bioaccumulation from environmental pollutants that are present in their prey. If they choose or are are forced to scavenge poisoned carcasses they will ingest poisons from animals often targeted as vermin in the Irish countryside.

Disturbance of nesting sites from well intentioned but occasionally intrusive tourism and recreation (camping, canoeing, fishing, hunting, bird-watching, photographers, aerial sporting etc.) can also pose a threat to an eagle species that seems very sensitive to disturbance .This seems particularly true during the breeding season and must be constantly monitored . All of these activities can comfortably exist side by side with a growing eagle population as long as we are aware and conscious of their needs .

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Dr. Allan Mee with school children with dead Male J White-tailed Sea eagle. (c)

Illegal killing, nest robbing and negative attitudes remain a problem in some parts of the world. There was considerable opposition to the reintroduction programmes of both the Golden and the White tailed Eagle from a small but vocal minority of individuals who felt these large raptors would threaten livestock. Their concerns were addressed and their fears have largely been seen to have been unfounded but birds continue to be found poisoned deliberately or accidentally throughout their feeding ranges. Given their limited numbers and lengthy breeding cycles each dead bird represents a heartbreaking step backwards in our attempts to re-introduce this species and indeed the Golden Eagle and Red Kite.

These beautiful animals were once hunted and persecuted to extinction in their Irish habitats. For over a century we had not seen their magnificent and majestic once native bird. Now thanks to the reintroduction programme and the work done by the Eagle Trust they are back and it is absolutely essential we do everything we can through education and protection to give them a fighting chance of staying and returning once again to our skies.

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Close-up of dead young White-tailed Sea eagle. (c) GET

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