TEN WHITE-TAILED sea eagle chicks have been flown into Ireland as part of a programme to reintroduce the species.
The ten chicks arrived at Farranfore airport in County Kerry on Friday, after travelling across the Atlantic on a chartered flight from Trondheim in Norway, where they were taken from the wild under license by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research.
The reintroduction programme was launched thirteen years ago, and was initially met with protests by farmers who were concerned the reintroduction of predatory birds could affect their livestock, particularly young lambs who could be attacked.
However, according to RTÉ, Friday's arrivals received nothing but a warm welcome by wildlife officials and the Eagle Project manager.
The sea eagle chicks have been taken to Lough Derg in County Clare-- where the first of the species were born in 2013-- and the Shannon Estuary in County Kerry, where they will be acclimatised for several weeks before being released into the wild.
Project manager Allan Mee told RTÉ News that 32 eagles have been born in Ireland since the reintroduction programme was launched, and despite some losses to the species due to illegal poisoning, Avian flu and the devastation of Storm Hannah in 2019, the project has been largely successful.
More chicks will be flown in from Norway over the next three years as part of the programme, with Killarney National Park expected to receive a large number due to their popularity with tourists.
Since the first set of chicks were reintroduced in 2013, the species has done well and their numbers continue to grow, raising hopes that the formerly native bird, which features prominently in ancient Irish folklore, could flourish.
One chick, born in Glengarriff, County Cork, has become a local celebrity of sorts after a webcam was set up allowing people to observe the bird growing and learning to fly.
Eaglecam update: eaglet is 10 weeks old and 'branched' for the 1st time today i.e. ventured onto branches. She's still a bit clumsy but gaining the balance/perching skills that are a precursor to flight. She's flapping vigorously and could fly any day!#eaglecam #whitetailedeagle pic.twitter.com/khl4wx9FjJ
— Glengarriff Woods NR (@GlengarriffWood) June 24, 2020