MARK CARWARDINE
BBC Wildlife|June 2022
"We have a duty to ensure politicians are informed about wildlife"

IN A COUPLE OF TWEETS ABOUT A white-tailed eagle - found dead in his West Dorset constituency - my local MP demonstrated such apparent ignorance that it raises questions about conservation's own failings.

White-tailed eagles were driven to extinction in the UK by gamekeepers, who relentlessly shot and poisoned them. But now they are being brought back - there are already 130 breeding pairs in Scotland and we're in the middle of a five-year programme to reintroduce them to England. One of the release sites is the Isle of Wight and, as hoped, some of these birds are now dispersing along the south coast.

But two white-tailed eagles died under suspicious circumstances earlier this year (one in Dorset, the other in Sussex). Although the birds of prey are protected by law, they have been the target of persecution because of the perceived threat they pose to game bird shoots and sheep farms.

So when Conservative MP Chris Loder criticised Dorset police for investigating the eagle's death and argued that they should direct their resources to catching drug dealers instead of wildlife criminals, his comments were met with derision and disbelief by many.

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