White-tailed eagles were in the news yesterday after it emerged that the progressive Ken Hill Estate has launched a public consultation to consider the reintroduction of sea eagles to Norfolk (there’s a good article in the Guardian about it, here).
This is quite a story, as journalist Patrick Barkham points out, given that ten years ago some Norfolk pig farmers vehemently opposed a reintroduction proposal but this time a number of them are on board, no doubt reassured by their recent experiences with visiting eagles from the Isle of Wight reintroduction project.
There’s a long way to go before a decision is made, of course, and Norfolk’s appalling reputation for the continued illegal killing of birds of prey will need to be carefully considered, but have a look at the Ken Hill Estate website (here) where they’ve published useful background information and provided links to the public consultation and opportunities for people to sign up to forthcoming webinars. It’s impressive stuff.
Meanwhile in Scotland, there is still talk of culling white-tailed eagles. This isn’t anything new – there have been persistent calls for a cull from certain quarters for years, fuelled by sensationalist nonsense from the Scottish Gamekeepers Association who even wrote to the Government calling for a public enquiry about the ‘threat’ that sea eagles posed to babies and small children (I kid you not – see here).
The latest call stems from the recent news in the Scottish Farmer that Nature Scot’s sea eagle action plan review ‘may also include further licensed activities’ (see here).
Although those potential ‘licensed activities’ are not defined, and may not involve lethal control at all, the Scottish Farmer’s editor, Ken Fletcher, has written an editorial suggesting that ‘there is a growing feeling that management will, indeed, mean that in some areas a cull will have to take place‘.
Here’s the relevant part of his editorial from 14 January 2021:
RE-WILDING has become a noisy topic both on-line and in the national press, but there is a temptation to argue that it’s very much a minority that is seeking to drive change.
For want of a better expression, it would appear that the Great British (Scottish) public don’t give a monkeys about beavers, sea eagles and lynx. Yes, they would probably like to see them on their way to littering our countryside, but it cannot be argued that their life would be immeasurably worse off without them.
So, it’s nice to see that there is more of a balance in the stakeholder input into curbing so-called rogue individual birds by the sea eagle management scheme. It’s now readily accepted that some birds do severe damage to livestock in certain areas and equally that farmers accept their managed right to be in their locale. The key is in the word ‘managed’.
It’s a thorny and potentially politicised subject that will probably not raise its head above the parapet until after the Scottish elections later this year, but there is a growing feeling that management will, indeed, mean that in some areas a cull will have to take place.
Some argue that this should involve relocation as being an option, instead of a lethal solution. But, in the same way the ludicrous notion that not producing beef in Scotland will save the planet thus seeing production ‘exported’, then sending difficult birds to new locations will only transpose the problem.
It’s also been hinted that beavers should not be shot – as they are allowed to be under licence at the moment – but re-located instead.
We have a ready-made solution. Send them to Knapdale, in Argyll, where the original and sanctioned re-wilding project seems to need ‘topping up’ on a regular basis as they keep disappearing. It seems that they don’t like the wild west!