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Conservationists slam 'horrific and illegal' mass poisoning of buzzards in Co Cork

BirdWatch Ireland said that 23 dead buzzards were recovered near Timoleague last December.

Image: Shutterstock/Luka Hercigonja

CONSERVATIONISTS HAVE HIT out over the “mass poisoning” of buzzards in Co Cork. 

BirdWatch Ireland said that 23 dead buzzards were recovered near Timoleague last December. It was later confirmed that all had died due to ingesting the highly toxic and banned substance Carbofuran. 

Buzzards are fully protected in Ireland under the EU Birds Directive and under the national Wildlife Act 1976 (as amended), to kill or injure one is a criminal offence.

BirdWatch Ireland has hit out against the incident and has urged the Minister for Culture and Heritage Josepha Madigan to condemn the “horrific and illegal” act. 

“History dictates that incidents such as this mass poisoning will continue to occur unless appropriate action is taken,” John Lusey, raptor conservation officer with BirdWatch Ireland said. 

“The illegal poisoning of birds of prey is a problem which is not just isolated to Ireland, and we appreciate that crimes such as this can be difficult to investigate, but a lot more needs to be done to effectively tackle the ongoing illegal persecution of our birds of prey,” he said. 

BirdWatch Ireland has also called for the establishment of a dedicated Wildlife Crime Unit within the Department of Culture and Heritage. 

“If we are to take wildlife crimes such as this seriously, we need a dedicated wildlife crime unit and there needs to be proper resources allocated for the effective investigation and enforcement of the Wildlife Act,” Lusby said. 

“Until this happens, illegal poisonings and other wildlife crimes will continue without consequence throughout the country, it is as simple as that,” he said. 

Minister’s response

Speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, Minister Josepha Madigan confirmed that the Department does have a wildlife crime unit. 

“Our legislation is extremely tough,” Madigan said. 

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She added that the Department has an understanding with the ISPCA charity to assist its operations.

“We also have a very positive and constructive working relationship with An Garda Síochána,” Madigan said. 

“Over the last six years, I think about three people have been prosecuted by the National Parks and Wildlife Service in relation to illegal poisons specifically. The last one was in 2016 and that was in relation to the poisoning of a grey heron in Co Louth,” she said. 

But I have to say, this is a particularly cruel and calculated act, extremely malicious.

Madigan went on to issue advice to the public on what to do if they find poisoned bait. 

“If anyone is listening to this and they have found poisoned bait or victims they shouldn’t touch them, they should warn others to stay away from them, they should note the exact location and the details of any evidence, cover the items if they can and report the wildlife crime details,” she said. 

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