The population of golden eagles in Ireland is in a “critical” situation and are facing starvation, according to the Golden Eagle Trust.
The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) is urging Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney and Fine Gael politician and the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphries to act urgently to save the golden eagles in Ireland from the threat of extinction. The Golden Eagles Trust’s have also stated that ”primarily the Department of Agriculture, have the ability to improve the lot of the Upland eagles” and that it is farm policies regarding upland vegetation to be the ”the key ingredient”
The Golden Eagle Trust has confirmed through its examination of various golden eagles in Donegal what many ecologists already presumed that the lack of food in the Donegal landscape has resulted in the decline of this species of bird. There was no records of any chicks being fledged in 2015 and only one in 2014 was recorded, and as the parent birds age there is less time to establish a viable population.
The small Golden Eagle breeding population has been facing harsh conditions in the Donegal Mountains in 2015. The Golden Eagle Trust has stated that ”by and large the productivity of the Donegal breeding pairs is effected by habitat conditions and associated live prey availability of their home ranges or territories. Human interference, either by disturbance or poisoning, has not been noted as a limiting factor with these pairs”.
IWT Campaigns Officer Pádraic Fogarty says “it would be tragic were golden eagles to go extinct again, after all the hard work put in by the Golden Eagle Trust and others. Their loss would represent a huge blow to Donegal, not least from the tourism potential that these birds present. Sadly the lack of any management plan for Glenveagh National Park or surrounding ‘special protection areas’, or any conservation measures to protect the eagles is now placing the future of golden eagles in Ireland at threat.”
The Golden Eagle Trust have emphasized that if the main reason for the decline in this species is due to the Hills in Donegal being kept in a unfavourable conservation status it would lead to very serious consequences, ”which could have serious implications in terms of European commitments regarding Wildlife Directives, Windfarm planning applications, Cross Compliance measures of farm payments and forestry applications”.
In order to secure the viability of Donegal’s eagles it is necessary to focus on the most prominently on the habitat condition of the Donegal uplands. The Golden Eagle Trust feel that the conditions of the Donegal Mountains can be improved, if there is an effort made to conserve this habitat. It is human actions that have shaped the limited capacity of these hills and it is essential that responsibility is to be taken in order to improve the Hills of Donegal.
The GET IWT and many others are trying to influence and improve upland land management in Ireland in order to facilitate a small number of breeding Golden Eagles. Climate change may have an increasing role to play in annual productivity. The Golden Eagle Trust believe that ”this population has the potential to stabilise and slowly increase, given the right management policies”.