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White-Tailed Eagles Return To English Skies For First Time In More Than 200 Years

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White-Tailed Eagles Return To English Skies For First Time In More Than 200 Years

White-tailed eagles have made a return to UK skies after being driven to extinction in the country.

The birds have a wingspan of 2.5 metres - making them the UK's largest bird of prey - and disappeared from England all the way back in 1780, although there were sightings in Scotland until 1916.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

However, the birds, which are also known as sea eagles, have been reintroduced to the UK in a joint project from Forestry England and the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation.

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A group was released onto the Isle of Wight last year and fitted with trackers so conservationists could keep an eye on how they were doing.

Although during the winter the birds were fairly sedentary, as the weather has heated up data from the GPS shows they have flown out to several regions in England including Somerset, Kent and Norfolk, the Mirror reports.

The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation said: "There have been a large number of sightings in spring 2020 which relate to birds released on the Isle of Wight."

Credit: PA
Credit: PA
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The Foundation is now urging anyone who spots one of the birds to take some photos and send them in using a special form on its website.

The birds have yellow talons, legs and beaks and, as the name would suggest, a white tail ridged with black.

The Roy Dennis Foundation told the Mirror: "They are known to explore widely in their first two years before returning to their natural area to breed. There's a chance of seeing one wherever you live so keep looking up, but please stay home and stay safe."

Credit: PA
Credit: PA
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There reintroduction into the UK hasn't been welcomed by all, though, as some farmers are concerned about their livestock due to the predators.

White-tailed eagles are a protected animal in the UK, which means it's an offence to take, injure or kill one of the birds or to damage or destroy its eggs or nest. These laws are punishable with a fine of up to £5,000 ($6,200) or six months in prison.

You can find out more about white-tailed eagles or report a sighting here.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: UK News, Animals

Claire Reid
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