JULY 1, 2020
A new study has shown that golden and white-tailed eagles were widespread and common throughout historic Wales.
Scientists looked at their historical distribution as part of their bid to bring the species, which became regionally extinct in the early-1800s, back to the Welsh countryside.
During their research they gained fascinating insights by looking at archeological, fossil and observational records—and even Welsh place names.
The study also includes the earliest evidence of golden eagles existing in Wales in the Devensian period—the final glacial period in Britain—about 20,000 years ago.
Sophie-lee Williams, 28, who manages the Eagle Reintroduction Wales Project as part her Ph.D. at Cardiff University, said: "One of the first challenges for our project was to gather evidence of the past distribution of both eagle species to prove they were once historically native to Wales. In other parts of Britain there's a wealth of data—but in Wales there is a real lack of historical record so we had to be creative. Our research has shown, without doubt, that both species were widespread and common across Wales prior to the 18th Century. We hope this opens up new optimism about restoring these magnificent species to Wales in the near future."
The researchers gathered 151 historic records for eagles across every county in Wales—81 for golden eagles and 70 for white-tailed eagles.