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NPWS investigating use of illegal poison in buzzard death


Anton McNulty

THE National Parks and Wildlife Service is appealing to the public for information regarding the use of an illegal poison which was found in a dead bird of prey near Crossmolina.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) confirmed that the banned pesticide carbofuran was found in a common buzzard, which was recently found dead in the Castlehill area of Crossmolina, as well as in the magpie the buzzard was feeding on.
Noel Bugler, Wildlife Inspector with the NPWS Western Division, outlined that the NPWS is concerned about this development, as carbofuran is an extremely toxic poison that has been banned from possession and use in Ireland since 2008.
“It’s extremely potent toxicity is a threat not only to wildlife but to domestic pets, farm animals and anybody who may inadvertently come into contact with any bait laced with this banned toxic substance.
“The poisoning of wildlife is a serious blot on our environmental record and is unacceptable in 2021.
“We will need people and communities to help us to tackle this issue by reporting activities, such as the presence of animal or suspicious meat baits, tethered live birds laced with poisons used to attract birds of prey, and to immediately report any dead birds of prey or any birds acting uncharacteristically or dying in unusual circumstances.
“We are interested in how this particular banned pesticide is still persistently being used to poison wildlife across Ireland, despite being banned for over a decade, and would appeal to anybody with any information to contact NPWS in confidence,” Mr Bulger said.
Fines and prison time
Buzzards went extinct in Ireland during the early 20th century but naturally recolonised the Antrim coast from Scotland from the 1960s. They spread through the northern part of the island and have been noticed along the west coast in the last 20 years.
Mr Bugler said the illegal use of poison to target foxes and stray dogs has a knock on effect on wildlife, with birds of prey like the buzzard particularly susceptible to poisoned meat baits.
“It’s abuse and misuse has been implicated in a lot of bird of prey deaths culminating in the killing of 23 buzzards in Cork and a rare hen harrier in Meath in 2019,” he said.
Penalties under environmental legislation include fines of up to €5,000 and/or imprisonment up to 12 months.
“These investigations are very difficult to investigate by their nature,” Mr Bugler explained, “and we are grateful for the farmer who had been actively watching a pair of buzzards in his locality in Castlehill and found the dead bird on his lands and reported it immediately to NPWS.
“It is probable that the vast majority of persecuted birds of prey will not actually be found and recorded for investigations and statistics, therefore the scale of this problem is probably far more widespread than we realise.”
Anybody that may have old stocks of carbofuran-based pesticides or alphachloralose lying about in sheds for a long number of years is to asked to contact the Department of Agriculture, Pesticides Control Division or the NPWS, who will dispose of it safely. Anyone with information on this incident or with any incident of wildlife poisoning should  contact NPWS Lagduff Office in confidence at 076 1002518 or 098 49996, or natureconservation@chg.gov.ie or noel.bugler@housing.gov.ie.