Mark Jenkinson, MP for Workington is supporting a project considering the reintroduction of White-tailed Eagles to Cumbria and the surrounding region.

White-tailed Eagles were once widespread in Great Britain and became extinct in 1916 through human persecution. They are the largest native bird of prey in the United Kingdom. Adults can have a wingspan of up to 2.5 meters

Species reintroduction is always complex and controversial. There are concerns among the sheep farming community that White-tailed eagles may predate lambs and other small or weak livestock. Some farmers in Scotland are reporting serious problems caused by large populations of these birds.

Cumbria reintroduction project moving rapidly.

This proposal has been mostly under the radar till now. An initial feasibility study shows there is plentiful habitat along the Cumbrian coast for these birds and reintroduction is ecologically feasible.

Working Group established

A White-tailed Eagles Cumbria Working Group has been recently set up. Its members are The Lifescape Project, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, RSPB, the Solway Coast AONB, University of Cumbria, University of Leeds and Natural England.

Next steps 

The Lifescape Project will lead on behalf of the Working Group. They are seeking financial support of £120 -150k to undertake the following:

  • Social Consultation and Engagement – to investigate whether there is local support for such a reintroduction
  • Further work to fully prove the ecological feasibility of reintroduction and and to plan its implementation
  • A license application submission to Natural England for the release of White-tailed eagles in Cumbria.

You can read the proposal here 

They reckon it should take around 18 months to complete.

More questions than answers 

The Federation has several questions we will be putting to Mark Jenkinson, MP including:

  • Why do we need to release White-tailed eagles in Cumbria when there is a resident population in Scotland and a release in mid-flow in the Isle of Wight? Isn’t it only a matter of time before they start to widen their patch across the country? Why not let it occur naturally?
  • What happened in Norfolk? Wild Ken Hill – did have plans to bring White-tailed eagles from Poland this year. But they recently changed their mind and will not be introducing the eagles. Why?
  • The social consultation will look to see if there is local support. As White-tailed eagles are very mobile species, shouldn’t  the consultation process be fully national?
  •  It should be noted that those who benefit from the project are undertaking the consultation and  feasibility studies? Will they be impartial? Using independent consultants may work better. At the very least get independent scrutiny of the results and recommendations of these studies.
  • The release phase is a 5-year project. What happens after the 5 years are up? Will there be compensation available after the project has ended?  This and other assurances should be part of a license application to Natural England.
  • If a licence is granted, will private or Government funded insurance or compensation be a legal requirement? Also, before licenses are granted, will there be mitigation measures and exit strategies put in place, in case things go wrong?

Fill in the survey 

Mark Jenkinson wants to hear the view of people and interest groups in Cumbria and surrounding areas. Pease fill in Mark Jenkinson’s survey and have your say. You don’t have to live in his constituency. White tailed eagles are mobile birds and this reintroduction could impact anywhere in Cumbria and beyond.