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Dublin: 20°C Thursday 18 August 2022

'Ireland makes headlines in Norway when a white-tailed eagle is killed here'

The Norwegian government donated 15 white-tailed eagles to Ireland in 2007, in an attempt to reintroduce the species here.

Image: Piotr Krzeslak via Shutterstock

INDISCRIMINATE POISONING, AND the shooting of birds are among the methods used to illegally kill birds in Ireland.

According to a new European report Killing 2.0, which looks at which birds are killed and how, an estimated 0.4 – 2.1 million individual birds are killed per year across Europe and the Caucasus region – mostly for pest control or hunting purposes.

The report shows that the bird group with the highest percentage of species affected are birds of prey, or raptors. 51 out of 52 raptor species are affected by illegal killing.

This is still relevant in Ireland, where it’s birds of prey are killed by shooting and “indiscriminate” meat poisoning left out to kill animals such as foxes and crows, says Niall Hatch of BirdWatch Ireland.

He says that the birds of prey they are most concerned about are red kites, white-tailed eagles, golden eagles, buzzards and peregrine falcons.

But white-tailed eagles are of particular concern – in June 2007 Norway donated 15 eagles in an attempt to reintroduce the birds to Ireland.

shutterstock_383270053 A golden eagle. Source: Richard Constantinoff via Shutterstock

“Norway donated white-tailed eagles to Ireland to reintroduce them, they’re gifts of the Norwegian government. So every time one is killed, it makes headlines in Norway and makes Ireland look terrible.”

He said that the reasons why birds are killed is due to poison left out to kill “pests”, orthe misconception that birds of prey feed on livestock.

“There’s an ill informed belief that they’re harmful to livestock, but they mostly feed on rabbits and rats. Sometimes they’re spotted feeding on stillborn lambs, but they don’t kill them.”

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Prosecution of those that leave poisoned meat out, or shoot birds of prey is difficult to prove, and there’s a “lack of data” on the number of bird killings in Ireland.

But Hatch adds that collaboration with other European highlights the scale of the problem, as many birds migrate for the winter and could be killed illegally while abroad.

“Birds don’t have jurisdiction borders and conservation measures shouldn’t [have them] either.”

Read: An ‘aggressive seagull’ is plaguing Today FM but are other humans responsible for its belligerence?

Read: Irish people reporting sightings of hummingbirds that are actually moths

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