Governments unite to tackle bird poisoning

THE Irish and Scottish governments are to work together to tackle the illegal poisoning of golden and white-tailed eagles and other birds of prey.

Fourteen of the 55 white-tailed eagles introduced to Killarney National Park as part of a novel conservation project have died, seven of them from poisoning.

Kerry Gardaí and the Department of Agriculture are continuing to investigate the eagle deaths, which have led to bitter controversy and denials from farming organisations that the birds were deliberately poisoned.

The tourism industry in Kerry is strongly supporting the project, which has been put under serious threat by the killings. However, another 15 to 20 eagles are due to be released next month in Killarney as part of the five-year project.

Scottish Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham has now written to Irish Environment Minister John Gormley seeking talks on this “unacceptable problem”. Ms Cunningham wants to look at possible joint initiatives and the Irish Government has also indicated it is keen to collaborate with Scotland.

Figures released in March showed the number of birds of prey being killed with poison in Scotland had increased, with 22 poisonings recorded in 2009.

And in May, 10 protected birds of prey, including eagles and red kites, were confirmed poisoned in the Irish Republic over a period of a few weeks.

Ms Cunningham said both countries were committed to a healthier future for the eagles.

“Sadly, poisoning is still being reported but both governments find this behaviour unacceptable. I believe that collaboration could help us in the fight to stop this damage to our biodiversity and to our international reputations,” she said.

Mr Gormley said the Government was very grateful to the Scottish government and people for their support in allowing eaglets to be taken for its re-introduction project.

“We understand the concern about eagles being poisoned and hope that both the Irish and Scottish governments can support each other in measures to stamp out this blight on both our countries,” he said.


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