(May 30, 2007)

First golden eagle born in Ireland in nearly 100 years

By Jonathan Saul
From Reuters

DUBLIN (Reuters) - A pair of golden eagles have produced the first chick to be hatched in the Republic of Ireland in nearly a century after the species was hunted to extinction in the country.

Golden eagles, which have a wingspan of about 6 foot when fully grown, were wiped out in the early 20th century by trigger-happy pleasure-shooters and egg collectors.

A pair of golden eagles are believed to have bred in Northern Ireland in the late 1950s, after migrating from Scotland, but this is the first birth in the Republic of Ireland since the early 1900s.

In 2001, conservationists began reintroducing adult golden eagles to the northwest of Ireland from Scotland.

Lorcan O'Toole, project manager with the Golden Eagle Trust Ltd, one of the bodies which manages the program, said on Wednesday the chick was born five weeks ago.

He said they had waited before announcing the news in order to minimize possible disturbances to the hatchling's growth.

"We are very excited, but a little anxious," he told Reuters. "As it gets to 8 weeks of age we will be pretty confident it will survive."

The nest hatched two chicks, but one bird died five days after being born.

The project's previous attempts to help the birds breed, at the Glenveagh National Park in the wilds of County Donegal, have failed.

"It is a long process, and it will take a long time before we establish a viable self-sustaining population," O'Toole said.

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