With its 8 foot wingspan the sea eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) is one of Eurasia’s most spectacular birds. It was once resonably common in the UK numbering over 400 individuals in the 1700s. But, as with most big, spectacular animals it proved to be an inconvinience to humans and was hence wiped out in the UK by 1916.
In 1975 they were re-introduced into western Scotland, by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), in association with the RSPB. Despite deliberate persecution they have thrived, rearing 42 chicks in 2007. They have been a boon for the tourist industry in places such as Mull. They have now been re-introduced into Eastern Scotland as well
Plans are afoot to continue the project in Suffolk thanks to Natural England and the RSPB. As with every possible re-introduction just about every animal hating, ill-informed, non-scientist windbag has come out of the woodwork with pathetic bleatings against the wonderful project.
Chief amoung these kneejerk naysayers is Suffolk broadcaster Libby Purves. In an on line article so pompous it could have only been written for The Times Purves lets fly with a stream of vitriol.
“They want to spend more than £600,000 to introduce the birds to Suffolk (Norfolk saw off the scheme a year ago). They claim “vast” popular support — though you could doubt the validity of a sample of 500 people asked some saccharine question about whether they fancy seeing one. Enthusiasts insist that it is a “reintroduction”, on the ground that sea eagles once lived here.
Mark Avery, of the RSPB, says with that familiar tone of scorn for his own species: “Man is the reason they are missing, and it is for us to put that right.” Nobody has actually proved that Suffolk is their ancestral homeland — there are some uncertain 18th-century bones — and Andy Evans, of the RSPB, indeed, was last quoted saying feebly that “sea eagles must have been here in Roman times”.
Well the fact is Ms Purves, that man is the reason why many species are missing from the UK. The brown bear, the wolf, the wolverine, the lynx and Europen bison and the moose to name but a few. Five extirpated creatures the eagle owl, the capercaillie, the large blue, the beaver and the wild boar are back and I think we should al welcome the sea eagle as the next on the list to return. We destroyed these creatures in Britain and it falls to us to bring them back. Personally I would wecome all of the above in wild places like the Highlands of Scotland. Of cours bears and wolves could not be brought back to Suffolk but the sea eagle could.