National outcry over poisoning of rare eagle

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There was national outcry last month over news that a white-tailed eagle was illegally poisoned in Connemara., with Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys leading a widespread condemnation of the killing.

The six year old female bird was discovered dead in its nest by a conservation ranger on April 1 and was recovered by a team from the Department’s National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) the following day. Toxicology tests have now revealed that the bird was poisoned.

Minister Humphreys said: ‘The loss of this breeding female comes as a major blow to the reintroduction project for white-tailed eagles. This is a very serious incident as the killing of this breeding female has effectively put an end to any breeding attempt of this beautiful species in west Galway for at least another five years. It is particularly disappointing considering this bird was due to lay eggs shortly.’

This white-tailed eagle was released in Killarney National Park in 2009 as part of a reintroduction programme managed by the Golden Eagle Trust in partnership with the NPWS. The bird settled in Connemara in 2012, where she paired up with a male. While her eggs failed to hatch last year, the post-mortem showed the bird was within days of laying two eggs.

It is the 13th confirmed poisoning of a white-tailed eagle in Ireland since the reintroduction project began in 2007.

Minister Humphreys added: ‘It is believed that the poison is generally intended to kill foxes or crows, but is leading to the poisoning of these rare birds. Poisoning remains the greatest threat to the re-introduction of white-tailed eagles here and I would remind the public that the use of poison to kill animals such as foxes or crows has been banned since 2010.’