An investigation has been launched into the deaths of four buzzards after tests found one had been shot.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NWPS) has started the investigation after tests could only be carried out on one of the protected birds due to decomposition.
In a statement, the NPWS said it is "currently investigating the deaths of four buzzards on land in Delvin, Co Westmeath".
Buzzards are fully protected in Ireland under the Wildlife Act, 1976.
Hazel Revington, whose brother owns the farm near Delvin, described her horror at the discovery of the birds which she photographed a number of times in the last two years.
“My brother Andrew is a tillage farmer and went into the field where he discovered them. It looked like they had been there some time as they were hollow carcasses and covered in frost when they were found,” she said.
“I went down to the field and my heart sank when I saw them. I felt a huge sense of devastating loss.
“My gut instinct was always that they were shot because it looked like someone popped them out of the sky as they had landed in a row on the ground. So I reported the deaths to the NPWS and an officer was here within hours”.
She said the birds “benefit our ecosystem and kill off rats and mice so I can’t understand how anyone would want to harm them.”
Niall Hatch from Birdwatch Ireland said he hoped investigations would lead to a prosecution. "This is a serious offence under the wildlife acts and I would describe it as barbaric".