Green light for White-tailed Eagles

Photo credits: Ainsley Bennett

Go ahead from Natural England

We’re delighted that we have received the go ahead from Natural England to bring back White-tailed Eagles to West Norfolk and Eastern England! We’re hugely excited that we will all have the opportunity to watch this charismatic bird soar through big Norfolk skies once more.

The approval comes after a full feasibility study was conducted, including a public consultation that ran during January and February. We were overwhelmed by the support during the consultation, where 91% of survey respondents gave their support to the propoals, including 83% who said they were “strongly supportive”.

Support for the project came from every sector – every major stakeholder group supported these proposals, including 63% of over 200 farmers that participated in the project survey. We are extremely grateful for the broad-based suport that we have for the proposals and to those that participated in the survey or submitted a response. Our focus is now on delivering the important conservation work itself.

The juvenile birds must be released during the summer, and ongoing complciations with international travel make it likely that a release in 2021 is unfortunately not possible, making 2022 the probable first year of release.

Of course, where concerns did arise during the consultation process, we are committed to working work effectively with relevant stakeholders during the project to ensure these are adequately addressed.

Project details

The project here at Wild Ken Hill 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. 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.

The juvenile birds will be sourced from Poland, where there are around 1,000 pairs of White-tailed Eagles. Unfortunately, current complications with international travel under Covid-19 restrictions mean that the project team will struggle to perform the necessary translocation procedures. First birds are therefore likely to be released in 2022, rather than 2021 as originally hoped.

Amongst other benefits outlined by our Project Manager Dom, a viable population on the East coast centred around West Norfolk would help to connect existing populations in Scotland, Ireland and the South of England, as well as the thousands of birds in Europe, including in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany.

Indeed, six juvenile birds released on the Isle of Wight have spent periods of time in Norfolk over the last year in addition to others from the continent, demonstrating the suitability of the area for the species. One of the Isle of Wight birds subsequently crossed the English Channel and is now in Denmark. Long, exploratory journeys are common for juvenile birds, which usually return to their natal to breed.

Crowdfunding – we need your help!

We are now launching a 7-week crowdfunding campaign to help get the project up and running. Before any Sea Eagles can be reintroduced at Wild Ken Hill, we need to build them a new home, purchase technologies to monitor their health, and have the capacity to feed them (we need to keep a lot of frozen fish!).

We are asking for your help to get this vital infrastructure ready, allowing us to bring the first juvenile birds from Poland in 2022 and reintroduce them at Wild Ken Hill. With your help, we can get this project started.

Join us by donating or purchasing one of the awesome rewards, like a private tour at Wild Ken Hill, or a chance to choose names for Norfolk’s new eagles.

Thank you in advance for your support, we are truly grateful.

Feasibility study

As part of our commitment to maintaining a transparent and open-book approach, we have made available the full study that was conducted to assess the feasibility of reintroducing White-tailed Eagles to Norfolk. We hope the study demonstrates that the comprehensive and detailed manner in which the project team examined the potential benefits and risks of going ahead with such a project.