Fifteen White-tailed Sea Eagle chicks are to be released in Ireland’s Killarney National Park as part of a five-year breeding experiment to re-introduce eagles to the Irish countryside.

The chicks will be reared with minimum human contact and monitored closely by a team of experts.

The White-Tailed Sea Eagle was once common in Ireland but died out after being trapped and shot in the 19th and 20th centuries. International researchers identified Co Kerry as the best place in Ireland to re-introduce the birds because of the unique rugged coastline habitat.

The Sea Eagle can grow up to 100cm (40 inches) long with a 250cm (100 inch) wingspan. It preys on fish, birds, carrion and occasionally small mammals. The adult is mainly brown but has a distinctive white tail.

The five-year project in Co Kerry will generate local tourism revenue. In Scotland, Sea Eagles attract thousands of visitors and are worth up to three million euro a year to the economy of Mull island.

In Co Donegal, a project to re-introduce the Golden Eagle is now in its sixth year.

The White-Tailed Sea Eagle project will also help Ireland fulfil its commitment to maintain and enhance native wildlife under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

The initiative is managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Golden Eagle Trust and others.