Countryfile presenter Tom Heap was finding out more about the reintroduction of sea eagles to the UK’s countryside in today’s episode of the BBC show.
The white tailed eagle, also known as the sea eagle, was hunted to extinction in the United Kingdom by the early 20th century but in the early 1970s, new populations of the predator were introduced in parts of western Scotland and the birds have become a huge tourist attraction.
Licenses have now been granted for 60 sea eagles to be introduced on the Isle of Wight over a period of five years, with the hope that the birds will spread across the south coast.
However this controversial plan to boost the numbers of Britain’s biggest bird of prey is not good news for everyone.
Tom spoke to one family of farmers who claimed eagles nestling nearby have killed 180 of their lambs.
Speaking about the deaths, Morag Buchanan said: “It’s horrendous, it’s soul destroying, that’s your future.”
The presenter explained he believed these eagles only prey on lambs that are weak in some way or are dead.
However, Morag and her husband disagreed, revealing in their case, the lambs had definitely been alive and well.
She continued: “The birds that have proven to be a problem have to be removed,” to which Tom asked if she meant they should be culled.
“Do what they like but get them out of here,” she replied.
Countryfile viewers were outraged by the comments and believed the preservation of the birds should come before the interests of the farmers.
One said: “Sea eagles photographed over Mull carrying a lamb. Oh the outrage. If the eagle hadn’t taken it the farmer would’ve sold it for meat. Hypocrisy #countryfile.”
“With all due respect, when it’s a choice between increasing biodiversity and farmers’ livelihoods taking a slight hit, the answer should always, ALWAYS be biodiversity. Sorry not sorry. #Countryfile,” wrote another.
A third tweeted: “Oooh. Lady lamb farmer not very nature friendly about the eagles. #countryfile.”
“So the farmers are complaining about sea eagles killing the odd lamb? Err, what great plans did you have for their future then? #countryfile.”
Other viewers enthused about the predator and praised Countryfile for tackling such an important issue. One said: “#Countryfile What a gorgeous bird.”
“Wow I’d love for sea eagles to be reintroduced to the #IsleofWight and the south coast. Amazing birds #Countryfile,” remarked another.
A third added: “Good to @RoyDennisWF on #countryfile this evening – talking sense in a balanced fashion as always #seaeagles.”
Meanwhile, in last week’s episode Joe Crowley was horrified after a guest hammered deer legs into a river as a way of replenishing the benefits that salmon provide to the waters.
When salmon die in the water their carcass’ nutrients aid the river but as their stocks deplete, deer legs can be used as a replacement for those missing nutrients.
Countryfile airs Sunday at 7pm on BBC One.