Another sea eagle found poisoned

 

A white-tailed sea eagle  has been found poisoned in sheep country near Glencar in the foothills of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks in Co Kerry.

The female eagle was released into the Killarney National Park this summer as part of an ambitious five year re-introduction programme from Norway.

The sheep farming area of the Reeks - which extends west of Killarney and includes the River Laune and Beaufort area - is notoriously dangerous for the eagles.  The latest poisoning casualty is the ninth since 2007. Another eagle was shot in the area.

The poisoning is despite strict legislation banning poisoned bait to control foxes introduced in October after an outcry by conservation groups and representatives of Norway over the spate of poisonings here.

Last May, the Norwegian Ambassador to Ireland Öyvind Nordsletten expressed his outrage at the continued use of meat bait to poison animals and birds.

The female, which was found on December 11th last, died from high concentrations of liver fluke drug, the State laboratory has found.

This was probably from meat bait left out to poison foxes and grey crows, a practice that is now “unequivocally illegal and totally unacceptable” under recent legislation, those involved in the project said today.

Gardaí are investigating and are understood to be following a definite line of enquiry. In all some seventy seven eagles were brought here from Norway as part of an ambitious re-introduction programme .

The scientist in charge of the project, Dr Allan Mee, said the practice of using poisoned meat bait has been banned outright since October. The legislation was “unequivocal” and ignorance was no longer a defence. “Poisoning is illegal now,” Dr Mee said.

He expressed concern the bird had been poisoned so early, well before the upland March April lambing season, and said the project did not expect to lose a bird now.

It appeared the cold spell was being used to target birds and foxes when they were at their hungriest. “Cold spells are the real vulnerable time now, ” he said.

Other than strictly controlled rat poisons, it was an offence now to use any type of meat, fish, egg or other animal substance as a bait to poison or stupefy birds or animals, and there needed to be awareness of this new legislation, the Kerry Sustainable Rural Environment Group has warned.

It was set up earlier this year in the wake of a spate of poisonings during the lambing season this year, and heated public meetings in Killarney where outrage and shame was expressed at the poisoinings.

As well as the Golden Eagle Trust, the group includes the major farm organisations, the gardaí, the South Kerry Partnership, and Teagasc.

The group is working on an awareness campaign and said it was “imperative” the farming community especially in the uplands were aware of the threat poisoning posed to wildlife, including owls and other wildlife. Its continued use was “unacceptable” spokesman Kevin O’Sullivan warned.

Fines of up to €5,000 may now be imposed on conviction. Some 77 birds have been introduced here since 2007 and a total of  15 have died - 10 in Kerry and five others elsewhere or have gone missing.