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Eagles project launches crowdfunding campaign in bid to continue work through the pandemic

18 September 2020

Sophie-lee Williams with a golden eagle
Sophie-lee Williams

A project to reintroduce eagles to parts of Wales has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help it continue its work through the pandemic.

Eagle Reintroduction Wales (ERW), which is backed by Cardiff University, Wildlife Trust Wales and Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation, hopes to restore golden and/or white-tailed eagles to rural Wales. They have been extinct here since the mid-1800s.

The coronavirus pandemic has left ERW without funding – and the project is now seeking public support to help continue its work to return the birds of prey to the wild.

Sophie-lee Williams, 28, who manages the Eagle Reintroduction Wales project at Cardiff University, said: “We had discussions about funding agreements with several high-profile backers ahead of the pandemic but as soon as lockdown hit it became clear that this money would sadly no longer be available.

“Until government and conservation funds open back up, we are asking for the public’s help and support to continue our pioneering work to bring these cultural and iconic species back to Wales.”

Species restoration is hugely complex and involves many different facets – from extensive feasibility studies and painstaking research to identify the best habitats and suitable release areas in Wales, to extensive wide-scale public consultation with communities and stakeholders. The work must adhere to strict, highly-regulated licensing processes set by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Natural Resources Wales (NRW).

Most recently, ERW, mapped the historic distribution of the two species in Wales – a vital pre-requisite to their reintroduction.

Wildlife experts believe the ERW project has the most realistic chance of several projects to successfully restore both native eagles. Experts have described ERW’s efforts as exemplary, extremely professional and well-organised.

ERW is aiming to raise up to £50,000 to help fund a full-time researcher for the project.

“We hope this appeal will help to keep our project moving forwards even during the uncertainty of the pandemic,” said Sophie-lee.

“We have already carried out three years of painstaking work - but there is still a lot more work to do to meet requirements before we will see eagles soaring in Welsh skies once again.

“Any donation big or small will help us to continue to gather the crucial evidence we need to restore these spectacular species to Wales. The more we raise the more secure the ERW project will be during the pandemic.”

Funding will enable ERW to initiate and complete the following IUCN requirements:

  • Extensive public, community and stakeholder engagement;
  • Ecological risk assessments;
  • Prey availability and density assessments;
  • The selection of the best release sites for both eagles in Wales;
  • A project steering group to guide the next steps in this work;
  • The practical plans and translocation methods leading to eagle restorations

A link to the Crowdfunder can be found here.

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