The Irish White-tailed Sea Eagle Programme aims to reestablish a viable self-sustaining breeding population of sea eagles in south-west Ireland after an absence of 110 years.  The growth of sporting estates in the early 19th century and the introduction of strychnine as a poison led to massive declines in the species and caused their eventual extinction by the end of the century, together with illegal egg collection and hunting.  The first birds were reintroduced from Norway in 2007 and, despite a number of difficulties, the majority of eaglets have survived and the project hopes to see the first breeding attempts in 2012 or 2013.

Photo by Laurie Campbell

I have assisted the  project by helping with advice on the techniques of rearing and release, as well as assisting Dr Allan Mee, the Project Manager in Kerry National Park, with the ringing, measuring and fitting of radio transmitters. 15 young eagles from Norway were released in 2007 and 20 in 2008.   In 2007, one chick was fitted with one of our GPS satellite transmitters.  The GPS radio gave excellent hourly GPS fixes near the release site and up to 8km into the mountains, but it was then illegally poisoned.  The accurate data allowed the carcass to be recovered.  This transmitter was purchased by the Irish Project and has been used on other sea eagle chicks.

This is a very important reintroduction in the recovery of the species throughout Europe and the project is doing well with the surviving 2007 birds now beginning to develop the characteristic white tail of the adult plumage (sea eagles take 4-5 years to mature).  We hope that the project will continue to go from strength to strength and hopefully see the birth of the first Irish-born sea eagles for over 110 years.

For more information visit the project website at