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PROPOSED PROJECT TO RESTORE WHITE-TAILED EAGLE TO THE ISLE OF WIGHT

Photo: Mike Crutch

Members of the public are being invited to 3 public meetings to be held on the Isle of Wight to find out more about a proposed project aiming to restore the magnificent White-tailed Eagle to the area.

White-tailed Eagles were once widespread along the whole of the South Coast, from Cornwall to Kent, before being driven to extinction by relentless persecution. The last pair bred on Culver Cliff on the Isle of Wight in 1780.

The Forestry Commission and Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation, with other partners, hope to undertake a White-tailed Eagle reintroduction project in the south of England and have identified the Isle of Wight as a potential release area due to its proximity to rich foraging areas in the Solent and as a strategic location on the South Coast.

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The project would involve the release of small numbers of Scottish White-tailed Eagles at a confidential site on the Isle of Wight over a 5 year period.

Evidence from Scotland, where the species has been successfully reintroduced, indicates that these birds would remain to breed in the area once they are 4-5 years old. Restoring a population of White-tailed Eagles on the Island would help to link populations in Scotland and Ireland with those in the Netherlands and France, and is part of wider international efforts to help the species.

Roy Dennis, who is one of the world’s leading experts on White-tailed Eagle reintroductions having helped pioneer the work in Scotland, and who spent a great deal of time on the Isle of Wight as a teenager said:

“We believe that the Isle of Wight is highly suitable for White-tailed Eagles. It is the last known breeding site of the species in southern England, the Solent and surrounding estuaries will provide a rich food supply, there are numerous potential nesting sites in woods and cliffs, and also good loafing areas for young birds.

“Evidence from the Netherlands where there is a small but growing population of White-tailed Eagles indicates that the birds will do very well in this landscape. We are keen to consult the local community, landowners and other stakeholders on the Island to encourage support and involvement in the project, and to identify and resolve any concerns.”

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The public drop-in sessions will be held at 3 locations across the Island, as follows:

• Monday 12th November – 18:00-20:00 at YMCA Winchester House, Shanklin
• Tuesday 13th November – 11:00-13:00 at 5th Ryde Scout Group Hall, Ryde
• Tuesday 13th November – 18:00-20:00 at Cowes Yacht Haven, Cowes

Members of the public can arrive at any time during the drop-in sessions, and the project team will be present to answer questions and to discuss the proposals. There will also be an opportunity to provide feedback via an online questionnaire.

In addition to the conservation benefits, it is thought that the project would give a significant boost to the Isle of Wight economy, including in winter. In Scotland eagle tourism is extremely popular and recent reports have shown White-tailed Eagles generate up to £5 million to the economy of the Isle of Mull each year, and £2.4 million to the Isle of Skye.

For more information about the project visit https://www.roydennis.org/isleofwight/ which includes a comprehensive frequently asked questions section.

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