WILDLIFE charity Wilder Britain has been in discussions with landowners, farmers and local communities about its ‘Welsh Golden Eagle Project’, a plan to return the species to their former range in Wales' mountains.

It has pointed to the reintroduction of the birds to Ireland by the Golden Eagle Trust as its template for the Welsh project. Speaking for Wilder Britain, Dr Paul O’Donoghue – who also fronts the Lynx UK Trust – commented: “It is amazing to see the support that the whole community has provided to the return of the golden eagle in Ireland. A very successful ecotourism industry has been developed around them and the farmers we met had welcomed the eagles. It is a fantastic conservation success story that we want to emulate in Wales.”

The first proposed Welsh release site is the Snowdonia Mountain range. Dr O’Donoghue continued: “Golden eagles are a key part of Welsh culture and heritage and they are sadly now missing from the beautiful Welsh landscape. Imagine the excitement of seeing these incredible birds soaring around the rugged peaks of Snowdonia. Without doubt it would be one of the biggest ecotourism draws in the UK and would generate fantastic business opportunities for local communities.”

Welsh upland farmer Brian Sheldon was cited by Wilder Britain as a supporter. He said: “At first I was a bit sceptical of bringing these predators back, but having looked at the facts and experiences of farmers who already live with these birds in other places, my concerns have disappeared. I think this will provide much needed diversification opportunities for Welsh upland famers in what are difficult times.”