Chris Loder MP and the eagles (3) – Poll Results & MP Responses
Recently Chris Loder MP ruffled feathers after declaring that his constituency county of Dorset ‘is not the place for eagles to be reintroduced’. Following the news of two White-tailed Eagles found dead under suspicious circumstances, one of which was on a shooting estate in Dorset, Mr Loder’s views highlighted the frustrating and far-too-frequently seen culture of intolerance towards birds of prey in the UK.
We wanted to see if this feeling was shared widely– so we launched a simple Twitter poll asking if birds of prey, like White-tailed Eagles, are welcome where you are.
We’re pleased to say of the nearly 4,000 of you who responded, the overwhelming majority (97.3%) welcome birds of prey. The tiny minority (0.3%) saying ‘no thanks’ to birds of prey represented less than 30 people. This is quite a clear-cut result, even if we know our audience is generally a wildlife-friendly one.
We were also interested to see if this anti-eagle sentiment was shared by other MPs and elected representatives across the UK – so we asked you to write to them. Thank you to those who did; we’ve now started hearing some responses back. They’re mixed, and interesting.
Some, like this response from, are generally supportive of the reintroductions and welcomed an investigation into the two recently reported deaths:
Dear ________ Thank you for contacting me about White-Tailed Eagles. I would like to assure you that my ministerial colleagues are committed to the recovery of species, including wild birds. I welcome that the Environment Act 2021 includes a new legally binding target to halt the decline in species abundance by 2030. I know that ministers continue to provide opportunities for successful reintroductions such as white-tailed eagle to the Isle of Wight, pine marten in the Forest of Dean, and restoring populations of hen harrier and curlew. I am aware that several schemes to reintroduce white-tailed eagles have been working across the UK. Like you, I was very concerned to hear that two of these eagles have recently been found dead. I welcome that police are investigating these deaths, with post-mortem and toxicological examinations being conducted. Thank you again for contacting me on this issue.
Others were more aligned to Mr Loder’s views – sharing a similar scaremongering rhetoric about the risk of White-tailed Eagle reintroduction to people’s pets:
Thank you for your email concerning the potential reintroduction of white-tailed eagles to Herefordshire. I am not against the reintroduction of certain species in principle. However, I am reluctant to support the reintroduction of large predators and raptors due to their impact on livestock and people’s pets. As a resident of Herefordshire, I am sure that you can appreciate the stress and misery which is caused to farmers by dogs which attack or worry their livestock. However, in the case of dogs worrying livestock, there is at least an owner that is legally responsible for the behaviour of their pet. Eagles of course have no owner, and there would therefore be no way of compensating farmers affected when they attack sheep. That is not even to mention the potential anguish which could be caused when eagles kill or carry away beloved family pets. The cost of these reintroduction programmes cannot be ignored. I believe that the money spent on these could be used better in other areas of conservation. Thank you again for writing to me. Yours sincerely
Then some were short but sweet – like this one:
Thanks. Mr Loder’s views are his own and he is not accountable to me. I support the Eagles!
Whilst only a tiny sample, it goes to show opinions are divided. These three responses were all from Conservative MPs, so attitudes differs even within political parties. The fact that misinformed opinions and inaccuracies about wildlife are shared quite widely is a worrying thing. As always, we’ll be working to correct and challenge this.