Rare birds poisoned by range of chemicals

THREE protected birds of prey found dead in separate counties in recent months were each poisoned by a different chemical, tests have confirmed.

The Golden Eagle Trust released the results yesterday and said they show the full extent of the threat of poisons to the birds.

The group, which is trying to reintroduce protected kites and eagles into Ireland, claimed the results also show that Irish law is in breach of an EU Birds Directive which specifically protects eagles and kites.

It plans to lodge an official complaint with the EU Commission and it called for further toughening of the laws to stamp out the illegal use of poison on a small number of Irish farms.

The results of toxicology tests carried out at the state laboratory in Celbridge, Co Kildare, and in Scotland, show that a white-tailed sea eagle, found dead near Killarney, Co Kerry, last month, was poisoned by Carbofuran, a pesticide used to control insects in crops and highly toxic to humans.

It is the fifth from a batch of 15 birds released in Killarney National Park in August 2007 to have been poisoned.

A red kite, found near Tiglin, Co Wicklow, was killed by Alphachloralose, usually used on mice, rats and crows, while a golden eagle was poisoned by Paraquat, in Co Donegal, last February.

A second red kite was also found dead, in suspicious circumstances near Patrickswell, Co Limerick, last month, and postmortems and toxicology tests are ongoing.

They all died after eating meat bait laced with poison which may have been intended for other animals, including foxes.

Projects to reintroduce eagles to Kerry and Donegal and kites to Wicklow, run by the trust in partnership with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, are being seriously undermined by the poisonings.

“Something has to be done about the poisoning situation or more eagles will die,” the trust’s Dr Allan Mee said.

“It’s a national disgrace that we continue to mindlessly wipe out wildlife by using poisons in this day and age.

“The fact that three separate poisons were used to kill three different species, found in three different counties, shows the full extent of the threat that poisons pose to Irish birds of prey,” he said.

Environment Minister John Gormley said new regulations are in draft form and will be implemented as soon as possible.

“I will be strengthening the law to prevent the laying out of poisons in meat bait — something that’s absolutely necessary, at present,” he said.

An Irish Farmers’ Association spokesman said worthwhile discussions have taken place between the association and the trust on striking a balance between the preservation of farming in marginal areas and the re-introduction of the white-tailed eagle and the red kite.


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