Irish sea eagle found covered in oil in Britain

A WHITE-TAILED sea eagle, released last year as part of a reintroduction project in Killarney National Park, has been returned to the wild after being found injured in Scotland.

Seven weeks ago, the young male bird was discovered unable to fly by a kayaker in an isolated cove on the coast of Aberdeenshire. Its plumage had been badly oiled by an unidentified substance.

But, after a successful period of care at the Scottish SPCA’s Wildlife Rescue Centre in Fife, where its feathers were washed to remove the oil, the eagle has again been set free.

Dr Allan Mee, project manager of the Irish White- tailed Sea Eagle Reintroduction Programme, yesterday said the bird would have had difficulty maintaining its feathers and would most likely have died if it had not been rescued and cared for.

This bird is the fifth confirmed sea eagle to have flown from Killarney to Scotland over the last four years. Two other eagles that spent time in Scotland are now paired up with mates back in Kerry.

“So, hopefully, after a spell of wanderlust, this adventurous male will return to Kerry to find a mate and breed as well,” said Dr Mee. He paid tribute to people and organisations in Scotland involved in its rehabilitation.

A total of 100 young eagles have been released in Killarney National Park since the project began in 2007. To date, 19 birds have been recovered dead, with nine being confirmed illegally poisoned.

Poisoning was suspected in the deaths of another four birds. According to Dr Mee, poisoning remains the “key limiting factor” in the restoration programme.

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