Scotland will help sea eagle population return to England after 200 years

Adult White-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) in flight. ©Lorne Gill

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Sixty young white-tailed sea eagles will be collected from nests in Scotland containing two or more young so that they can be taken to the Isle of Wight in an attempt to re-establish a population that has been extinct on the island for two centuries.

This innovative conservation project will be supported by Scottish Natural Heritage and is similar to that of the re-introduction of the sea eagle to Scotland using birds form Norway in the 1970s and 1980s.

The breeding programme in Scotland turned out to be very successful as there are now estimated to be 130 pairs of white-tailed sea eagles spread across the west Highlands coast and islands.

Francesca Osowska, SNH’s chief executive, said: ‘White-tailed eagles’ re-introduction to Scotland is an outstanding conservation success story. They are an awe-inspiring sight for locals and visitors to Scotland, and just one way SNH is working to ensure our nature-rich future.

‘The same success is hoped to be repeated in England with a newly established breeding population linking to emerging Dutch and French populations, by connecting these and the Scottish and Irish populations the species is expected to grow in numbers in Western Europe and strengthen its long-term survival.’

Duncan Orr-Ewing, head of species and land management for RSPB Scotland, added: ‘The Isle of Wight reintroduction project will hopefully start the process of population re-establishment of this species in England, linking up with wider conservation efforts for this magnificent bird across mainland Europe.’