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Surge in number of birds of prey being 'poisoned and persecuted'

A case where four people poisoned a number of birds of prey was found in West Waterford.

An image of the red kite found by the NPWS ranger.
An image of the red kite found by the NPWS ranger.
Image: National Parks and Wildlife Service

2015 SAW THE largest number of incidents of poisoning or persecution of birds of prey since the Government began to investigate the deaths of these birds in Ireland.

A new report prepared by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) highlighted 35 confirmed cases where birds of prey were “poisoned or persecuted”.

The report highlights, however, that it would be “naive to think that any more than a fraction of raptor poisoning and persecution can be formally recorded.”

In one case, four individuals were successfully prosecuted by the NPWS after a number of birds of prey were poisoned in West Waterford.

Another individual was prosecuted for laying poisoned bait. More than a hundred other birds such as crows and pigeons were also found to have been poisoned last year.

map of confirmed poisoning Map of confirmed poisonings in 2015 Source: Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

The report notes that not all poisoning of birds of prey is deliberate. Accidental poisoning can often occur when poison is used on rats and mice who are then eaten by the likes of red kites and barn owls.

Since 2007, cases of poisoning and persecution have been reported for golden eagles, peregrine falcons and sparrowhawks.

The report states that these statistics are compiled to “build a clear and robust picture of poison and persecution incidents, with data including… methods, peak months for incidents, black spot areas and much more.”

The report, commissioned since 2011, is prepared as part of the national RAPTOR (Recording and Addressing Persecution and Threats to our Raptors) scheme. You can read it here.

Read: Three protected birds of prey found poisoned

Read: Appeal for information after poisoning of protected bird of prey in Wicklow

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Sean Murray

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