Man charged for eagle mass poisoning
A man has been charged following the deaths of at least 136 Wedge-tailed Eagles in Australia. The eagles were discovered dead in Tubbut, Victoria, earlier in the year, prompting authorities to undertake raids on several properties nearby. The perpetrator was found and is alleged to have been using deadly baits to lure in and kill raptors for at least two years.
The mass poisoning of the eagles is unprecendented in Victoria (DELWP).
The man responsible was charged following an investigation that involved about 30 people; he has been released on bail following his arrest on Tuesday (11 September 2018). Under the state's Wildlife Act, killing a single Wedge-tailed Eagle – a protected species – carries a fine of up to A$7,928 (£4,350), and a maximum six-year jail term. Investigations are ongoing, including forensic examination of evidence recently seized in searches of relevant properties.
Victoria's Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) said it was the largest case of Wedge-tailed Eagle deaths in the state's history and that the true number of dead birds may be even higher. Jill Redwood, from Environment East Gippsland, said residents of the sparsely populated district – which lies near the New South Wales state border – were aware of several farmers who poison or shoot the eagles over fears they will kill livestock.
The carcasses were found hidden in bushland and scrub on properties that amounted to roughly 2,000 ha. It's understood a man employed to manage the farm involved with the investigations had a falling out with the property owner and blew the whistle on the practice. The property manager has since left.
'Wedgies' are the largest bird of prey in Austrailia, and are found throughout the country in almost all habitats, though they tend to be more common in lightly wooded and open countryside in the south and east.