Fifth annual report on threats to birds of prey published
The Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs has today (Wednesday) published the fifth annual report on threats to birds of prey. The report is prepared by the Department’s National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in collaboration with the Regional Veterinary Labs of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and the State Laboratory. The report is the product of a joint Departmental initiative to investigate bird of prey deaths in Ireland.
2015 saw the largest annual number of incidents since recording began systematically in 2011. In total, 35 poison and persecution incidents were confirmed. In 2016, two court cases taken by the NPWS on poisoning were successful; one case including four individuals that had poisoned a number birds of prey in West Waterford, and another case involving an individual that was laying poisoned bait.
Poisoning falls into two general categories: accidental poisoning through the use of poison against rats and mice which then accumulates in birds that eat them, most notably red kites and barn owls; and deliberate laying of poison. The victims of poisoning and persecution since 2007 include Red Kite, Common Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, Golden Eagle, White-tailed Sea Eagle, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Hen Harrier, Barn Owl and Short-eared Owl. More than a hundred other birds such as crows and pigeons were also found to have been poisoned.
The NPWS Database of poison/persecution incidents enables an appraisal of black spots, associated land-use types, methods of persecution, motives behind the persecution and the times of year at which such incidents peak.
The report is the result of cooperation between the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine’s Regional Veterinary Laboratories and the State Laboratory, and also involves An Garda Síochána. The report notes that the use of tracking devices on birds has enabled dead birds to be found, but this also means that the true levels of mortality are likely to be significantly higher.
You can view the full report here: https://www.npws.ie/sites/default/files/publications/pdf/2015%20RAPTOR%20report%20final.pdf
The use of poison has been greatly restricted under EU law in recent years. Direct poisoning and/or use of poison meat baits is illegal. Such incidents often involve the lethal substances Carbofuran, Nitroxynil and Alphachloralose.
The Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use was launched in September 2013 with funding from rodenticide industry. This campaign aims to promote best practice so that rat poison in particular should not get into the wildlife food chain where it harms owls, kites and other birds of prey.
Despite some persecution and accidental poisoning, many birds of prey such as the peregrine, buzzard and red kite are faring well in Ireland. However barn owls are under threat and the golden eagle reintroduction project has been hampered by poisoning events.