Sea eagles in the Solent?

© Neil Aldridge

John Durnell responds to proposals to reintroduce sea eagles to the Solent

We, like many others, very excited about the prospect of seeing white tailed sea eagles in the skies above our two Counties. 

We think the proposals to reintroduce these magnificent birds to the Isle of Wight have the potential to inspire an entirely new audience to take an interest in their natural environment and the sight of white tailed sea eagle successfully hunting over a wilder Island would be an iconic image. We’ve seen ospreys have captured the imagination and are much loved by local people at our Fishlake Meadows nature reserve – and similar projects elsewhere with sea eagles have boosted visitor numbers and tourism.

White-tailed eagle and chick in Wester Ross, Scotland

© Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

We do, however, need to ensure that there is enough habitat and food available on the Island to support what would be a new top predator. The Island and the surrounding areas support internationally important populations of both over wintering and breeding coastal bird species, such as brent geese and curlew.

Unfortunately we already know that human development, disturbance and pollution have placed great pressure on local birdlife on our shores and fish in our seas. Therefore it is essential that in attempting to bring back one iconic species we don’t add to the pressure on others. However this is an opportunity to strengthen and restore our local habitats so that they can robustly support a top predator like these sea eagles – and all the wildlife beneath them in the food chain.

If the potential introduction of white tailed sea eagles could help us create a Wilder Wight, with healthier ecosystems on the land and in the surrounding seas - then there would be enormous gains for wildlife even if the actual arrival of the eagles takes a few more years.

We look forward to seeing more information from the team behind the proposal

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