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White-tailed eagles found poisoned in Co Cork

Two eagles were found poisoned near Glengariff; one of them dead. It’s the twelfth white-tailed eagle to be poisoned since 2007.

The dead white-tailed eagles
The dead white-tailed eagles
Image: Irish White-tailed Sea Eagle reintroduction programme

TWO WHITE-TAILED Sea Eagles have been poisoned in Co Cork – one of them fatally.

The dead female eagle was found on the sea shore near Glengariff, having been released in Killarney National Park, Co Kerry, in August 2010 as part of the reintroduction programme for the species.

The eagle had spent much of last year in south Kerry before moving to the Beara peninsula between Adrigole and Glengarrif in December 2012.

Sadly, on 18 January of this year, the eagle was found by a local man on the water’s edge near Glengariff, having apparently been washed up there. A post-mortem was carried out by staff from the National Parks and Wildlife Service based in Glengarriff at the Regional Veterinary Laboratory of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Test results showed that the bird had been poisoned, presumably from eating carrion (a dead animal).

The week before the poisoned eagle was found, another dead eagle was found at Derrynan, near Caherdaniel in Co Kerry, but in this instance it was not possible to determine how it died.

Very serious

Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, said:

The poisoning of an eagle in County Cork is very serious. Eagles are protected by law, they are majestic birds of prey, and their reintroduction to Ireland is an important and very worthwhile project. My Department is providing any assistance it can to the Gardaí in the investigation of this matter.

Illegal poisoning continues to be a problem for Ireland’s eagle population, Dr Allan Mee, Project Manager of the White-tailed Eagle Reintroduction said.

Last year we lost two birds to poisoning in Mayo and Donegal so this latest loss suggests that the problem hasn’t gone away. Over the last few years we feel we have made good progress in tackling the poisoning problem in Kerry, with the cooperation of the farming organisations and Teagasc, so we are disappointed to lose another bird to poisoning.

“We realise that landowners have in the past used poison to control crows and foxes especially around lambing time. However, we would like to remind people that use of poisons or other substances for the control of foxes and crows is now illegal,” he said.

The Golden Eagle Trust produced and distributed an advice leaflet to all sheep farmers in South Kerry and West Cork in 2011 and 2012, thanks to cooperation from Kerry IFA, ICMSA, Teagasc and the DAFM.

White-tailed Eagles nested in Ireland for the first time in over 100 years in 2012, when a pair laid eggs in a nest in Co Clare. Sadly, this nest failed to hatch a chick – but Dr Mee said hopes are high that 2013 will be the “breakthrough year” for the reintroduction project.

Dr Mee said they know of six pairs that could build nests and breed in Ireland in 2013.

This would be the start of what we hope will be the next and most critical phase of the reintroduction: establishing a small but viable breeding population. As we are no longer releasing birds into the wild it is vital that we now start producing our own chicks in the wild to replace any birds that are lost and maintain the population.

White-tailed eagles found poisoned in Co Cork
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