A project which began in Killarney National Park in 2007 aims to re-introduce white-tailed eagles to Ireland after a 100 year absence and has reached success with the birth of three eaglets in the past week.

Two of the eagles were born in Mountshannon on Lough Derg in Co. Clare and another was born in Killarney National Park. The eagles will be ready to breed from the age of five and will mate for life.

Since 2007, 100 young eagles have been introduced to Ireland but the decision has garnered some controversy as dozens of sheep farmers are concerned about the safety of their stock. Irish Farmers’ Association spokesman, James McCarthy, acknowledged the progress made by the Golden Eagle Trust project but said that the birds must be monitored closely in the future in order to avoid losses to livestock, theJournal.ie reports.

“If something happens to an eagle they have a transponder on it so they can track it and bring it to the State laboratory and do all sorts of forensic tests,” McCarthy said. “But an eagle does something to a lamb – the lamb will never be found and you have to prove it is an eagle rather than something else. So the thing is totally unbalanced against the farmer. With the increase in population there has to be some monitoring of predation of eagles on farmers’ flocks.”

Of the 100 birds that have been released since 2007, 27 have been found dead, 12 of them by poison while one was shot in Northern Ireland. There are now 12 nesting pairs in Ireland, living mainly along the southwest coast from Kerry to Clare.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, sees the birth of the eagles as a big step towards the project’s goal, RTE.ie reveals, saying:

“The principal aim of this project is to re-establish a viable breeding population of white-tailed eagles and today's events are the big step towards achieving that goal”.

Golden Eagle Trust project manager, Dr Allan Mee, who confirmed the births of the eaglets, thanked the local communities of Mountshannon and Whitegate, Co Clare, and Killarney in Kerry for their goodwill and continued support. "The eagles have benefited from widespread support from communities and landowners,” he said, “and their presence enhances rural economic values, especially wildlife tourism.”