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Sunday 22 October 2017

Fears of illegal poisoning after 80 birds found dead

Louise Walsh

THE suspected illegal poisoning of up to 80 birds in one small area is being investigated over concerns a banned poison was used.

Post-mortem and toxicology tests on some of the birds are currently being carried out by the state laboratories and the veterinary laboratory service of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine after the incident which occurred last week in Meath.

The injured and dead birds, which included rooks, jackdaws and a seagull were found in the Donore area last Friday – near the World Heritage site of Bru na Boinne.

Dr Maurice Eakin, the District Conservation Officer with the National Parks and Wildlife Service described it as "the worst such kill I have seen in the 12 years I have worked with the Wildlife Service".

Dr Eakin also found a source of the poison in the area which has also been sent for examination.

Although not confirmed, he suspects the birds were poisoned with Alpha-Chloralose – a poison that is banned for outdoor use in Ireland and hard to come by, he claimed.

He said: "The poison causes hypothermia in the birds and some of the birds I found were in a stupor state. Unfortunately, it can be a long and slow death."

BUZZARDS

He added that the far-reaching consequences of the kill was that if any birds of prey or animal ate a poisoned bird – they too, would be poisoned.

"Buzzards, a bird that was extinct in the south of Ireland up until about 20 years ago are now common in the Boyne Valley and they could easily get secondary poisoning.

"Also, if any child was to come in contact with the poison, the results could be very serious," he said.

Some of the poisoned birds, which were still alive, were taken to the National Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Ballivor, Co Meath, where they were successfully revived and released back into the wild in recent days.

Currently in Ireland, the normal method for keeping crows under control is to shoot them.

Dr Eakin also confirmed that he is investigating reports of more dead crows reported yesterday in the Castletown area of Co Meath – about 10 miles from Bru na Boinne. He said he also intends to contact local gardai on the matter.

Irish Independent

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