The reintroduction of the Golden Eagle into the Czech Republic

This project is being carried out by a non-governmental organization in cooperation with state authorities for protection of nature in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Participants to the project also include Ostrava ZOO and other institutions and specialists. View the 3 videos at the end of this article which portray the remarkable progress so far.  The last of the 3 videos captures the moment when 3 eaglets donated by the Slovakian authorities are being released into the Jeseniky Mountains in July this year.

Eaglet being raised in captivity by foster female Eagle

3 week old eaglet being raised in captivity by foster mother Eagle

The golden eagle reintroduction project has been under way since the mid 90’s of the last century, the real “take off” of the young birds however, did not occur until August, 2006.

The golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos Linnaeus, 1758) vanished as a nesting species from the Czech countryside at the turn of 19th and 20th century, the reason for that being undoubtedly human factors.

The eaglet now 5 weeks old

The eaglet now 7 weeks old

These ethical and humane dimensions are in fact one of the main reasons for this project – the correction of mistakes that had been made in the past. The second reason is purely biological. There has been a considerable gap due to the continual absence of this top-of-the-foodchain predator in our mountainous and foothill regions, absence which was interrupted only by occasional visits during their after nesting roams. The third essential reason is environmental and promotional. The golden eagle being a flagship species attracts media and public attention which allows us to  promote a greater interest in the issue of nature protection and landscape preservation. The project is based on the fact that the golden eagle is a conservative species, tightly bonded to its birthplace where it, reaching adulthood, returns and occupies a vacant nesting territory or settles on its boundaries.

Young eaglets (sc. the second and weaker one!) are collected from nests in Slovakia, carefully picked out in advance, when they are approximately 5 days old at which point no killing of the younger and weaker chick by its older and stronger sibling or one of its parents is imminent. These field procedures, including careful monitoring and mapping of nest sites, is carried out, as agreed, by the State Nature Preservation of Slovakia. The project itself does not threaten in any way the existing Carpathian population of the golden eagle, on the contrary, it promotes its spread and stabilisation. Collected chicks are temporarily placed in a Rescue Station in Zázrivá and from there they are transported to the Rescue Station in Bartošovice in Moravia. A foster mother (handicapped golden eagle female called Dina or foster mother in Zázrivá called Zoja) takes care of them and feeds them, taking turns with station keepers. Deliberately, the contact with humans is greatly minimized. When the young birds are 55-60 days old, which means they can feed by themselves and regulate their body temperature, they are transported into a releasing aviary, built in a peripheral part of the Beskydy.

 Release pens Jeseniky Mountains Moravia

The aviary is 10 x 8 x 3 metres  big. At the age of 85 – 95 days the young birds are released into the wild. They imprint on this area as the place of their birth.

They are given additional food for several months on the site and its surroundings until they can take complete care of themselves.

Fitting the transmitters on the the eaglets back

All young eagles have been fitted with transmitters and systematically monitored. The batteries in transmitters can last 4-5 years. Three eagles have been fitted with satellite transmitters.

 

 

It goes without saying that all golden eagles have been ringed and implanted with a particular marking – microchips. Moreover, their blood samples for DNA analysis were collected. 

 

 

The overview of released eagles and further information on present results of the project:
2006 – 4 young birds released (Anba, Babka, Cecilka and David)
2007 – 3 young birds released (Filoména, Gabra, Hanka)
2008 – 4 young birds released (Charlie, Isabela, Jakub and Kika)
2009 – 2 young birds released (Lia, Miko)
2010 – 2 females released (Orava, Petra)
2011 – 3 young birds released (Sára, Toninka and a male Urban)

Losses so far:
Female Gabra poisoned (carbofuran) in September, 2009.
Male Miko – heart failure in December, 2009.
Female Orava poisoned (carbofuran) in March 2011

In 2010, after more than 123 years, first nesting of golden eagles has been observed in the Czech Republic, the nesting couple being eagles released – male David (born in 2006) and female Filoména (born in 2007).

 

2015: The latest 3 eaglets donated by Slovakia released this week in the Jeseniky Mountains, Moravia.

Raptor Politics would like to thank Otakar Zavalsky the project leader for providing the latest video from 2015 above.

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