Giant white-tailed eagles set to be introduced to Isle of Wight could ‘eat PETS and sheep’

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GIANT white-tailed eagles due to be reintroduced to the Isle of Wight could take cats, dogs and lambs for food, it is feared.

Plans to return the birds of prey with an 8ft wingspan after 200 years were cleared by the Government’s wildlife chiefs.

eagle
Giant white-tailed eagles due to be reintroduced to the Isle of Wight ‘could take cats, dogs and lambs for food’
A9BIRDS

The conversation programme has sparked outrage in the farming community.

Farmers fear the eagles will have a ‘catastrophic effect’ on wildlife and domestic animals due to lack of wild prey.

They were reintroduced on the isle of Mull where farmers say they have targeted lambs.

Sybil Macpherson, 58, said: “We’re inland, in a special protection area for golden eagles.

“We’ve always been very proud of the golden eagles, they maybe take an odd lamb but we’ve always co-existed happily.

“But the sea eagles are much bigger and bolder, they’re opportunists and they will make sure they are fed.

“During the lambing season the eagles come to our lambing field every afternoon. We had three lambs taken on one day.

“The sea eagles are much bigger and bolder, they’re opportunists and they will make sure they are fed.

“In a highly populated place like the Isle of Wight I think they would take pets.

“The impact on nature and people’s livelihoods has been huge and I’m really scared for the Isle of Wight.”

FARMERS FEAR FOR LIVESTOCK

The National Sheep Association is ‘extremely disappointed’ and concerned there are no protections for farmers whose livestock has been killed, injured or taken by the birds.

Phil Stocker, NSA chief executive, said: “Make no mistake these birds are a top of the food chain predator whose behaviour will adapt relating to food needs and availability.

“We will see them taking livestock and other domestic animals and we will have consciously taken a decision that contradicts our interests in improving animal welfare and avoiding suffering.”


Natural England said their reintroduction is a priority in the Government’s 25-year Environment Plan and they would closely monitor the implementation of the licence.

Natural England said: “We have carefully examined the potential risk of lamb predation.

“There is no evidence of this becoming a problem where the eagles live alongside lowland sheep farming in Europe.

“However, we will ensure that the applicant puts in place clear routes to identify and manage any unexpected issues that might arise.”

Giant white-tailed eagles
Giant white-tailed eagles were reintroduced on the isle of Mull where farmers say they have targeted lambs
Alamy

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