Twenty-three birds of prey poisoned and shot in State last year

Common Buzzard most commonly killed ‘raptor’ species, National Parks and Wildlife Service says

A file image of White Tailed Eagles fighting over scraps of food. The species was among the birds of prey recorded as being poisoned and shot by the National Parks and Wildlife Service last year. Photograph: Neil O’Reilly.

A file image of White Tailed Eagles fighting over scraps of food. The species was among the birds of prey recorded as being poisoned and shot by the National Parks and Wildlife Service last year. Photograph: Neil O’Reilly.

 

Twenty-three incidents involving birds of prey being poisoned and shot were recorded by the National Parks and Wildlife Service last year.

The service said a number of suspected and unconfirmed incidents were also recorded in its annual report, entitled Recording and Addressing Persecution and Threats to Our Raptors.

The Common Buzzard (11 cases) was the most frequently recorded as dying as a result of human intervention last year followed by Red Kite (three), Kestrel (one) and White-tailed Sea Eagle (one), according to the report.

As in previous years, a significant proportion of recorded deaths were in the east of the State.

“Incidents involving poison, persecution or other threats to raptors are however very widespread across the country,” it said.

The report said the lead poisoning of a White-tailed Sea Eagle at Lough Derg is believed to be associated with the bird feeding on wildfowl that had been shot with lead pellets.

Wind turbine

The Kestrel is understood to have died after the bird collided with a wind turbine in west Limerick.

“A Kestrel was found at the base of a wind turbine in West Limerick, with haemorrhaging found to its skull. Interestingly, no wing damage was found,” the service said. “The full extent to which wind farm mortalities (whether through turbine or wire or fence collisions) occurs in Ireland is relatively unknown in the absence of large scale coordination of systematic surveys involving a range of techniques and modelling.”

The service said at the time of publication no prosecutions were brought for confirmed illegal activity impacting on birds of prey last year but “some investigations are ongoing in particular cases”.

“There are blackspots throughout the country but this may reflect on-the-ground surveillance effort as much as anything else and it would be naive to think that any more than a fraction of raptor poisoning and persecution can be formally discovered and recorded,” the report said.

“The chances of finding a bird carcass, considering a varied landscape and terrain, tall vegetation and scavengers can be considered as slim. It is considered even more difficult to discover birds that have been shot illegally, as the perpetrator will often remove or conceal the carcass to reduce the chance of being apprehended.”