Page 6 - Town & Around - June 2021
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6  Town & Around June 2021                                                         Tel: 01485 540620 email:
       Go ahead for White-tailed Eagles to be re-introduced to Ken Hill Snettisham

            atural England have granted a licence to the Roy Dennis
            Wildlife Foundation and Wild Ken Hill to reintroduce White-
      Ntailed Eagles to West Norfolk and the surrounding region.
         The go ahead has been given after a detailed feasibility study carried
       out by the project team and a public consultation which took place in
       January and February. 91% of participants gave their support for the
       proposals, including 83% of people who were “strongly supportive”.
         63% of farmers also indicated support for the proposals. The com-
       plete feasibility study, including results of the consultation can be
       accessed on the Wild Ken Hill website.
         The West Norfolk project will become the next phase of national
       efforts to restore White-tailed Eagles to England, which began with the
       release of birds on the Isle of Wight in 2019.
         The Natural England license will allow up to 60 juvenile birds will
       be released at Wild Ken Hill over a ten year period, with the aim of
       establishing a small breeding population of 6-10 pairs in the region.
       White-tailed Eagles usually do not breed until they are five years of age,
       and so it will take some time for the population to become established.
         The juvenile birds will be translocated from Poland, where there are
       over 1,000 pairs of White- tailed Eagles. Current complications with   Photo Credit Nick Edwards
       international travel under Covid-19 restrictions mean that the first birds
       are likely to be released in 2022.                  bring back the bird because of its coastal location as well as its quiet
         Also known as the sea eagle, the White-tailed Eagle is a native bird   woodlands, which provide ideal nesting spots.
       of prey, and the UK’s largest, with a wingspan of 8ft (2.4m). It was per-  A viable population on the East coast centred around West Norfolk
       secuted to extinction in Britain in the early twentieth century.  The   would help to connect existing  White-tailed Eagle populations in
       species has subsequently been successfully reintroduced to Scotland,   Scotland, Ireland – also established through reintroduction projects –
       and more recently, Ireland.                         with those in the South of England, and mainland Europe, including the
         The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation is a conservation charity also   Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany.
       involved in the ongoing south of England reintroduction project based   Indeed, six juvenile birds released on the Isle of Wight have spent
       on the Isle of Wight, which is a partnership with Forestry England. Wild   periods of time in Norfolk over the last year in addition to others from
       Ken Hill is a conservation and sustainable farming project on the West   the continent, demonstrating the suitability of the area for the species.
       coast of Norfolk.                                   One of the Isle of Wight birds subsequently crossed the English Channel
         Dominic Buscall, manager at Wild Ken Hill, said, “We are delighted   and, at the time of writing, is now in Denmark.
       to have the go ahead to bring back  White-tailed Eagles to Eastern
       England, and overwhelmed by the support we have received from all
       sectors. We have also carefully been listening to concerns where they
       have arisen, and we are now committed to delivering this important con-
       servation project and working with all of our stakeholders to ensure its
         Roy Dennis who has been instrumental in the recovery of the species
       in the UK, said, “This is the next logical step to restore this magnificent
       bird to England and compliments efforts across Europe to help the
       species.  We have carefully considered the potential ecological and
       socio-economic impact of the project and initial results from the Isle of
       Wight, and evidence from across lowland Europe, shows that this is a
       bird that can live successfully alongside people and fit into the East
       Anglian landscape very well.”
         Dave Slater, director for wildlife licensing at Natural England, said:
       “After thorough consideration, we have granted a licence allowing the
       Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation to release white-tailed eagles at Wild
       Ken Hill in Norfolk. Our experts have carefully assessed the project
       against guidelines for the reintroduction of species, as well as the poten-
       tial environmental, social and economic impacts. And we are satisfied
       that there are no significant risks associated with it. We’re content that
       the applicant’s experience, as well as our expertise and licensing pro-
       cess, ensures the project will be carried out in a responsible, well-man-
       aged way that takes account of concerns and makes a positive contribu-
       tion to both people and wildlife.”
         The project is now running a crowdfunding campaign to raise money
       for the initial costs.
         Roy Dennis said, “The breeding biology of  White-tailed Eagles
       means that although young birds range extensively in their early years,
       they usually return to their natal area to breed. However, if, in the future,
       young birds from other populations encounter a small breeding popula-
       tion of White-tailed Eagles in East Anglia, they may be encouraged to
         White-tailed Eagles are opportunistic predators with a preference for
       fish, waterbirds, and for carrion. No issues with conservation sites or
       farming systems have been recorded with any of the 13 birds released
       on the Isle of Wight to date.
         Wild Ken Hill was chosen for the next phase of national efforts to
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