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

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

The National Parks and Wildlife Service said a poison used for the control of rats and mice was used with meat bait – a practice now banned mainly for the protection of birds of prey.

THE NATIONAL PARKS and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and gardaí have called on the public to contact them with any information regarding the poisoning of a protected bird of prey in Wicklow.

The NPWS said a red kite – which is a protected species – found in Vartry Resevoir in Roundwood, Co Wicklow, has been confirmed poisoned. The bird was reported by a concerned dog walker to Birdwatch Ireland who informed local NPWS staff and an investigation into the matter started immediately.

A ranger responded to the incident and found the bird carcass which lay only a few hundred metres from residential houses and a local pre-school. The bird which appeared in good condition had a mouth and crop full of fresh food, indicating that cause of death was most likely poisoning, the NPWS said. The Vartry Reservoir is used for recreational walking and angling and provides drinking water to the southern suburbs of Dublin.


A post mortem was carried out and the bird was confirmed as having been poisoned by alphachloralose, the legal use of which is restricted to the control of rats and mice.

The stomach contents of the red kite indicate that the poison was placed on meat bait, a practice now banned, largely for the protection of birds of prey. Searches of the area for further casualties or poisoned baits and door to door enquiries were conducted by NPWS staff and local gardaí.

Speaking about the incident, Minister Jimmy Deenihan said the red kite is a “magnificent bird of prey” and described the poisoning as “unacceptable”.

I know every effort is being made to find those responsible for this incident, and I would call on any person with any information about this matter to contact the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department or An Garda Síochána. The use of this type of poison is strictly limited to the eradication of mice and rats, and should at no time be used in the unacceptably reckless way it was.

‘The height of recklessness’

The kite was a wild-bred Wicklow kite from 2012, only 14-months-old whose parents were originally brought over from Wales in 2008. Red kites have only recently made their way as far north as Roundwood and the NPWS said it will be disappointing for many of the locals that had been enjoying their presence to hear of the poisoning.

Dr Marc Ruddock, Red Kite Project Manager, for the Golden Eagle Trust said this is “the height of recklessness” and it is imperative that communities and individuals take responsibility for getting the people who are still laying poison to stop immediately.

“The costs are high for Irish wildlife and the potential human consequences of this incident don’t bear thinking about,” he added.

Appeal for information after poisoning of protected bird of prey in Wicklow
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Anyone with information can contact the Wicklow Regional Office in Laragh on 0404-45800 or email The Department of Agriculture can also be contacted about poisons at the Dublin Office on 01 6072000 or email

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