White-tailed Eagle poisoned with illegal pesticide in Ireland


A White-tailed Eagle has died after being poisoned with an illegal pesticide in Ireland.

The bird, a male released in 2021 as part of a reintroduction project, was found dead in November of that year. An inquiry into the bird's death found it had ingested poison that was being used illegally as so-called pest control.

Toxicology tests on the young White-tailed Eagle (not pictured) confirmed it was poisoned with carbofuran (Luke Hepples).

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage is seeking any information relating to the eagle, which was found dead on lands between Lough Ramar, Co Cavan and Lough Sheelin, Co Westmeath. Toxicology tests, carried out at the State Laboratory, have confirmed the animal was poisoned with carbofuran, an extremely toxic insecticide. Its use in crop production was withdrawn in Ireland over a decade ago and possession of carbofuran is illegal.

While it was unclear how the bird ingested the substance, the NPWS said it was possible he had eaten a dead animal laced with it. NPWS regional manager, Maurice Eakin, said the death of the bird highlighted "once again" the extent of the illegal practice of using poisonous material as pest control.

"In this instance, it is particularly disturbing that the reckless laying of poison has resulted in the death of a White-tailed Eagle, one of our largest and most majestic bird species, which had been persecuted to extinction by the early 1900s," he said.

The NPWS is particularly interested to hear from anyone who may have seen any people or vehicles "acting suspiciously in recent weeks in the general area between Lough Sheelin and Lough Ramar".

The eagle found dead last November was fitted with a satellite tag before it was released on Lough Derg, Co Donegal, in 2021. It had spent most of its time around Lough Sheelin and in neighbouring counties. According to the NPWS, it had "settled into its new surroundings" with two other White-tailed Eagles; a 2020 female released on Lough Derg and a male released in Killarney National Park.

All three birds had mostly been staying on the Westmeath lakes since last April until the satellite tag on the dead bird revealed it had not moved for some time, leading to the discovery of its remains.