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White-tailed eagles killed in Mayo and Donegal

Minister Jimmy Deenihan has condemned the killings of the eagles, who are believed to have been poisoned. One bird was also shot.

The eagle found at Lough Beltra
The eagle found at Lough Beltra

THE DEATHS OF two White-tailed eagles in Mayo and Donegal have been condemned by Minister Jimmy Deenihan.

One eagle was found dead in Mayo. It had been released in Killarney National Park in 2010 and was equipped with a satellite tag.

When the tag showed that the bird was not moving around, National Parks and Wildlife Service staff and the Golden Eagle Trust carried out a search, only find the dead bird on the shores of Lough Beltra in County Mayo.

Post mortem results showed that the eagle had high concentrations of poison in its body – and also that it had been shot as there were shotgun pellets in its body. It is not known however if the shooting and poisoning are related.

Another eagle was found dead recently in the Blue Stack mountains in Donegal. A post mortem showed it had also been poisoned.

Minister Deenihan condemned the killings, saying:

The satellite tracking shows that these birds had been wandering over hundreds of coastal, hill and lowland farms in recent months unmolested and without concern.  I understand that landowners in Mayo were actively sending in regular sightings to the project manager/team.
I am, therefore, very disappointed that some unknown individuals would wantonly try to kill these magnificent birds.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service are investigating the killings and Minister Deenihan urged anyone with information to contact their local Garda Siochána or the National Parks and Wildlife Service on 095 41054.

Dr Allan Mee of the Golden Eagle Trust, who is project manager of the White-tailed Eagle project, said that the recent incident was “saddening”.

After releasing this male eagle in Killarney National Park in 2010 we have been following its movement with great interest. Last year it spent over five months in north Mayo where it had been undoubtedly fishing on some of the rivers and lakes there before returning to Kerry for the winter.

Dr Mee added that the eagle returned to the same areas in Mayo in late March and would probably have spent the summer there again.

It’s tragic to think someone for some unknown reason would kill it. We would like to acknowledge the cooperation and goodwill shown to the reintroduction project by local communities throughout Ireland especially farming and fishing communities. It is ironic to think that at the same time as the reintroduction project is now bearing the fruit of this cooperation with birds nesting and generating huge interest in Co Clare, one of our birds has been needlessly attacked.

The Minister also said he finds these incidents “all the more disappointing” given that it was only last month that a pair of White-tailed eagles were confirmed nesting near Mountshannon in County Clare.

I am well aware that the presence of the White-tailed eagles in Kerry has proved a wonderful asset to tourism in my home county, and their establishment in other counties has great potential for tourism.
Not only are they a tourist asset, but they can be beneficial in other ways. In other countries they have been shown to control the numbers of other fish-eating birds in freshwaters, such as cormorants.

Read: White-tailed Eagles make Clare their new nest after 100-year wait>

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