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Wings of an eagle lifts protection debate  

The return to the wild of a wedge tailed eagle in Tasmania’s south has re-ignited the debate about protecting the endangered species.

The injured bird was rescued three years ago near Bothwell in the Central Highlands and delivered to carer Craig Webb.

“It had a collision with power lines, it had some soft tissue damage and it’s taken that long to get it right,” he said,

The bird has made a full recovery and was released off the peak of Mount Wellington yesterday.

Mr Webb says the first two weeks will be critical.

“He’s got to get his fitness up, and y’know other wegies are very territorial, he’s got to find his space in the world,” he said.

“It’s hard work for the first couple of weeks but yeah, I believe he’ll get there.”

Eric Woehler of Birds Tasmania says while it’s a good news story, there are several threats to the endangered species.

“At present the fines just aren’t enough to to discourage people from from shooting or poisoning the birds,” he said.

He says the penalty for such an offence needs to be raised by a factor of ten.

Mr Woehler says the Woolnorth wind farm in the north-west is also still having a detrimental effect on the species.

“At the moment we’ve lost we believe a minimum of 14 eagles (in the past five years) from striking the turbines and that’s not sustainable,” he said.

“It’s basically killing the birds that are resident on the area and drawing more birds in from the surrounding area, so it’ll continue to be a black-hole for eagles.”

The wind-farm operator, Roaring Forties, says it has several measures in place to limit the risk to the wedge tailed eagle.

Wedge tailed eagles are listed as endangered under Commonwealth and Tasmanian law.

ABC News

2 January 2008

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