An effort to reintroduce the golden eagle in Ireland, where the bird of prey was hunted to extinction nearly a century ago, has taken an important step forward, the project's manager announced Wednesday.
DUBLIN, Ireland An effort to reintroduce the golden eagle in Ireland, where the bird of prey was hunted to extinction nearly a century ago, has taken an important step forward, the project's manager announced Wednesday.
Lorcan O'Toole, manager of the Golden Eagle Reintroduction Project in the northwest county of Donegal, said two chicks released four years ago had nested on an Atlantic cliff -- but their first egg proved infertile, apparently after the male neglected the nest last month.
"It is a good start," he said. "A lot of birds fail in their first breeding attempt. It is not surprising that they failed, but we feel it is a major step forward. We are hoping in time to form a viable population."
The project, which is funded by the European Union and Irish government agencies, has released about 35 chicks imported from neighboring Scotland into the vast Glenveagh National Park in Donegal, where the bird was a common sight until the 19th century.
O'Toole said the project was designed to develop breeding pairs initially in Donegal, then elsewhere along Ireland's wind-swept western seaboard. He said the current breeding pair came from the first six chicks released in 2001, and this spring would have been the first time that any of them would have been old enough to breed.
All the released birds are tagged and can be tracked by radio signal -- and have turned up in the far south of Ireland and on Scotland's western isles. A few have turned up dead.
The golden eagle became extinct in Ireland in 1912. Seven other birds of prey became extinct from the late 18th to early 20th centuries in Ireland, which has much less diverse fauna than continental Europe.
Source: Associated Press