17/04/2015 Minister Humphreys condemns illegal poisoning of White-Tailed eagle
The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, has today (Friday) condemned the illegal poisoning of a White-tailed Eagle in Connemara.
The six year old female bird was discovered dead in its nest by a conservation ranger on April 1st 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.
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 contained two developing eggs and so was within days of laying eggs.
This is the 13th confirmed poisoning of a White-tailed Eagle in Ireland since the reintroduction project began in 2007. White-tailed Eagles reach maturity and begin breeding at about 5 years of age.
Speaking today Minister Heather 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.
“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.”
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Note to Editors:
The White-tailed Eagle, Golden Eagle, and Red Kite Reintroduction Projects in the Republic of Ireland are managed by the Golden Eagle Trust in partnership with the National Parks & Wildlife Service of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in the Republic of Ireland.
Releases of birds have taken place every year for five years (2007-2011) in Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry. In August 2011 the final cohort of 23 birds were released bringing the number released to 100 over the five year release phase of the programme.
White-tailed Eagles reach maturity and begin breeding at about 5 years of age. Seven pairs laid eggs in nests in the wild in 2014, with one nest near Mountshannon, Co. Clare, successfully fledging chicks in 2013 and 2014. It was hoped that the Connemara pair would one of a number of successful nests in Ireland in 2015.
In 2013, the first wild-bred chicks fledged successfully from a nest in Co. Clare with a further successful chick fledged in Clare in 2014. The number of adult pairs has increased steadily from one in 2010 to 14 in 2014.