PLANS to introduce the white-tailed sea eagle to Killarney National Park and the south west have run into problems - threats to kill the birds.
The proposal could even become an election issue.
An ad hoc group of tourism, business groups and environmentalists lent support to the idea, claiming there is broad community support.
The introduction of the eagles was to get under way this summer under the direction of the National Parks and Wildlife Service and non-governmental organisation the Golden Eagle Trust. But farmers have overwhelmingly rejected the idea.
Farmers in west Cork and Kerry told a special IFA meeting in Killarney they feared disease, further designations sterilising their lands and the taking of live lambs by the giant eagles, the fourth largest bird of prey in the world.
The farmers have also asked why the sea eagle is being introduced so far inland. The meeting decided to make opposition to the eagle an election issue and the IFA has already begun to lobby general election candidates.
In a surprise move, their concerns have been largely backed by the region's fishery board, the South-Western Regional Fisheries Board. The eagle is being introduced at a time when there are severe quota restrictions to conserve and increase salmon and sea trout numbers, members of the fisheries board point out.
Yesterday the new support group said the sea eagle was "the most exciting wildlife reintroduction programme ever undertaken" in this country.
© Irish Independent