After the successful reintroduction of the majestic white-tailed eagle in Scotland and on the Isle of Wright, efforts have now begun to reintroduce Britain’s biggest raptor to Norfolk 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 10 years ago was abandoned after it faced strong opposition from outdoor pig farmers, who feared the presence of the bird would interfere with the breeding of pigs.
This time, however, more than 20 landowners, farmers, and countryside organizations are backing the bird, encouraged by the fact that the recent reintroduction of white-tailed 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.
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. The first reintroduction efforts took place in Scotland in the 1970s and it took several decades before the chicks brought from Norway bred and expanded their range.
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 in Norfolk each year for five years, with the aim of producing a breeding population by the end of the decade, with birds likely to spread around to other parts of the region as well.