Britain's Biggest Raptor to Return

Updated: Mar 16

The white-tailed eagle, which can have a wingspan of up to eight feet, was hunted to extinction in England more than two centuries ago. It's now time for Phase 3 of its re-introduction to the UK.


The white-tailed eagle, which can have a wingspan of up to eight feet, was hunted to extinction in England more than two centuries ago but was successfully reintroduced in Scotland in the 1970s and, more recently, on the Isle of Wright. Now, efforts have now begun to reintroduce Britain’s biggest raptor to Norfolk, in south east England, in an unprecedented rewilding project led by farmers.


While the previous reintroduction efforts were conducted by conservation organizations, the new initiative is led by the Ken Hill Estate, an innovative farm known for impressive conservation work such as beaver reintroductions as well as regenerative farming projects.


An earlier attempt to reintroduce the raptor to East Anglia, a decade ago, was abandoned after strong opposition from worried pig farmers. Now, however, more than 20 landowners, farmers, and countryside organizations are backing the move, encouraged by the fact that the recent reintroduction of the eagles to the Isle of Wight had no adverse effects on farmers.


“We are bringing forward these proposals not only to reinstate this native bird to its former range but also to inspire people with nature and drive wider nature recovery in East Anglia,” Dominic Buscall, manager of the Ken Hill Estate.


“It is vitally important that we give local people and interests a meaningful opportunity to have their say on these proposals - that is why we are launching the public consultation and asking people to learn more about the project and take our survey,” he added.


As part of the Norfolk white-tailed eagle reintroduction effort, which is now subject to an online consultation, six to 12 juvenile birds would be released each year for five years, with the aim of producing a breeding population by the end of the decade, with birds anticipated to spread around to other parts of the region as well.

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