Plans to release sea eagles over Lake Geneva are set to go ahead this summer, despite some naturalists saying they are not local and have not been in the area for 130 years.
Jacques-Olivier Travers, falconer and owner of the Parc des Aigles du Léman – the lake is called Lac Léman in French – said he will release young birds he has bred at the park.
“We are waiting for the prefect to sign the approval but we expect to release six birds between June 15 and July 15.”
The pygargue à queue blanche, or sea eagle, is among the largest European birds and he has nine pairs, including five breeding pairs in giant aviaries.
Young birds fly early and learn from their parents, and he is trying a novel method of release: first moving them into cages beside their parents and then into the open.
“This is gentler, rather than just leaving them to fend for themselves. It means they can still get parental support and teaching.
“They are magnificent birds to see flying free and we hope to have that this year.”
Naturalists said the bird was no longer local and there were no high cliffs for nesting, but Mr Travers said there were three pairs already in France – at Nancy and Brenne, Indre – and they nest in trees.