White-tailed Eagles On The Isle Of Mull
Roseanna Cunningham, the Scottish Environment Minister, visited the Isle of Mull Sunday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of wild bred White-tailed Eagles in Scotland and 10 years of the island’s public viewing project.
“This year marks the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity and the Mull Eagle Watch project is a perfect example to showcase Scotland’s wildlife at its best.”
According to the RSPB, there were more than 200 breeding pairs of White-tailed Eagles in 1700 but they become extinct in Britain during the early 1900s due to shepherds, gamekeepers, fisheries, and illegal egg collectors.
There were a few failed attempts to reintroduce White-tailed Eagles during the 1950s and 1960s. The lessons learned from these failures helped the program that was started in 1975 to become a success.
From 1975 to 1985, 82 young birds were brought from Norway and released on the Isle of Rum in Scotland. In 1985, a breeding pair on the Isle of Mull raised the first White-tailed Eagle chick born in Scotland in more than 70 years!
Today, there are a total of 46 pairs of White-tailed Eagles across Scotland. Last year they successfully raised 36 chicks, 10 of which were on the Isle of Mull.
Roseanna Cunningham, the Scottish Environment Minister:
”It is great news that these birds are thriving on Mull. What is also brilliant is that the local community is directly benefiting through green tourism.”
Approximately 6,000 people a year come to visit the White-tailed Eagles bringing in more than 2 million British pounds (3.3 million US dollars) to the local economy.
James Hilder, chief executive of the Mull & Iona Community Trust:
“Mull Eagle Watch has given a great boost to the communities of Mull & Iona, as it allows the trust to distribute thousands of pounds to local youth groups, sports clubs, societies as well as contributing to other environmental and educational initiatives locally.”
For more information, here’s an interview from 2009 with David Sexton who is the RSPB Scotland Mull Officer. He discusses the history and the unique bird hide where visitors can view the eagles.