Home Sciences The reintroduction in Spain of the white-tailed eagle advances, the largest eagle...

The reintroduction in Spain of the white-tailed eagle advances, the largest eagle in Europe


The Pigargo Project is progressing well. Thirteen specimens of that species (Haliaeetus albicilla) from Norway have remained since this Monday in a special enclosure set up near the town of Pimiango, in the municipality of Ribadedeva (Asturias). They will remain there until the end of summer, when they are already acclimatized. Then they will be released and will be able to join the six surviving white-tailed eagles from the release last October (one specimen died electrocuted in France). The objective of this project, which was launched last year, is to create a breeding population of sea eagles in Spain. The first experimental phase of the project will last two years, and will show the results obtained in terms of the interaction of this great bird of prey with other wild species, especially those in an unfavorable state of conservation, as well as possible negative impacts or positive dynamics on socioeconomic uses. If the experimental phase reaches a positive evaluation, the Pigargo Project youIt will end its continuity with the annual release of up to twenty copies for at least five more years.The white-tailed eagles that arrived in Asturias on Monday were born this year, in their natural habitat in Norway, a country that, together with Russia, houses the best European populations of this bird of prey and that provides specimens of the species so that it can be recovered in other areas from where it has missing.

In the Scandinavian country, a technical team monitored dozens of nests with the aim of selecting those that had two or more chicks. A single chick was removed from each of these nests for shipment to Spain. In this way, according to the promoters of the project, the intervention does not imply the reproductive failure of the couple and “maximizes the chances of survival of the chicken that remains in the nest”.artificial nests

Although 13 white-tailed eagles arrived in Asturias, 18 arrived at Adolfo Suárez airport in Madrid-Barajas. All of them were transferred by a team from the Group for the Rehabilitation of Native Fauna and its Habitat (GREFA) to the recovery center that the association has in Majadahonda ( Madrid), for their veterinary supervision, the obtaining of samples for analytical tests and the placement of a GPS transmitter that will allow their movements to be followed when they are released.LThe five white-tailed eagles that were not transferred to Asturias remain in the GREFA fauna recovery center, as they are still too small. But soon they will also be transferred to Piminago.The 13 birds of prey transferred to Asturias have not yet learned to fly and rest in artificial nests built inside the enclosure in the form of a cage installed in Pimiango. When they can fly by themselves, they will move to a larger sector within that same enclosure, where they will continue to acclimatize to the area and socialize among themselves, until they are released. They will be fed and monitored at all times by technicians from the Pigargo Project, just as happened with the first group. The GPS transmitter carried by the birds has made it possible to verify that ehe behavior of the six surviving white-tailed eagles from the first release is consistent with what is expected by the experts.

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Thus, during their flights in search of territories to settle, the sea eagles moved intensely throughout the Cantabrian coast, the Pyrenees and the rest of the northern half of the Iberian Peninsula.”A good indicator of the project is that almost all the sea eagles that released last year have been linked to a greater or lesser extent to the release environment, which says a lot about the chances that they will reproduce in that area in the future, which is our objective”, explains Ernesto Álvarez, president of GREFA.strict scavengers

Released white-tailed eagles mainly consume the remains of dead animals: 50% carcasses of wild ungulates (wild boar, fallow deer, roe deer and deer), 35% of domestic ungulates (donkey, cow, goat, calf and horse) and 15% of fish.”Despite initial fears, the birds have integrated well into the habitat and they manage without affecting the wild or domestic fauna,” says biologist Lorena Juste, coordinator of the Pigargo Project. “In fact, to date they behave as strict scavengers and their presence in the area has not led to the displacement of other species such as the Egyptian vulture, the peregrine falcon or aquatic and marine birds”, recalls Juste.Death by electrocution is one of the main threats to raptors. For this reason, under the coverage of the Pigargo Project, almost fifty electrical supports (posts or turrets) were corrected with anti-electrocution measures and more than six kilometers of electrical cables were adapted with anti-collision measures.

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“These measures are the first of others to come and have been carried out thanks to the collaboration of the EDP company, which has wanted to get involved in the recovery of the white-tailed eagle with actions around the release zone that will benefit many others bird species”, says the president of GREFA.The sea eagle, the largest eagle in Europeis one of the eight birds that appear on the List of Extinct Species in Spain, which includes animals and plants that may be the subject of reintroduction projects authorized by the competent administrations, to recover lost biodiversity. The Pigargo Project, which has garnered criticism from scientists, environmental groups and livestock groups, is promoted by GREFA, has the financial support of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the collaboration of the Principality of Asturias, the City Council of Ribadedeva, the Government of Cantabria, two Norwegian entities and EDP .Questions and answers about the Pigargo Project: https://www.grefa.org/proyectosgrefa/preguntas-y-respuestas-sobre-el-proyecto-pigargo.html


Environment section contact: crisisclimatica@prensaiberica.es

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