THE recent illegal poisoning of buzzards in Cork has been labelled as “upsetting” and “completely unnecessary” by local politicians.
Cork South-West TD Christopher O’Sullivan said that he was “appalled” to learn of the “massacre of 23 common buzzards”.
It comes after independent conservation organisation BirdWatch Ireland condemned the largest poisoning of birds of prey in the country in decades after it recently learned of the illegal poisoning of the birds.
The birds were recovered last December after a concerned farmer reported the dead birds on his land to the National Parks and Wildlife Service and BirdWatch Ireland.
“There is a lot of farmer bashing going on when incidents like this happen but it was the farmer himself who reported this incident who obviously had become very attached to these buzzards and loved having that wildlife in the area,” Deputy O’Sullivan said.
The Fianna Fáil TD said that it is his understanding that the birds were recovered between the Timoleague and Bandon areas which are within his own constituency.
He said that the poisoning of these birds is punishable under the Wildlife Act but “unfortunately there has yet to be any prosecutions made”.
When found, the birds were sent for testing under the RAPTOR (Recording and Addressing Persecution and Threats to Our Raptors), which confirmed that all of the birds had died due to ingesting Carbofuran, a toxic and banned substance which Deputy O’Sullivan called “needless and unnecessary”.
“Carbofuran is not just lethal to birds, it’s also lethal to people so I’ll be looking for stronger measures and an investigation unit to be set up to investigate these crimes,” he said.
BirdWatch Ireland said that the targeted use of bait laced with poison to kill protected birds of prey remains “widespread” despite amended legislation banning the use of poison meat baits being introduced in 2010.
Mr O’Sullivan said that he will be submitting parliamentary questions (PQs) to Minister for Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan and seeking a full investigation into the incident.
“I’ll be asking her why no prosecutions have been taken under the Wildlife Act, I’ll be asking her to make a statement on the incident and I’ll be asking the government to tackle the issue of Carbofuran which is a banned substance,” he said.
Green Party councillor Alan O’Connor said that it was “really upsetting” to hear about the recent mass poisoning of the native birds.
The councillor for the Cobh electoral area said: “In a time of increasing wildlife loss, the gradual recolonisation of Cork's skies by this species, after almost a century's absence, has been wonderful to see.
“I've seen up to four at a time in the skies over Carrigtwohill. I agree with those calling for a ban on possession of the neurotoxin which killed these animals and welcome Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan's call for a full investigation into the incident.
“We also need to properly fund our National Parks and Wildlife Service so that they can prosecute those who would take away our natural heritage, and strengthen our laws so that those who are prosecuted are properly held to account,” he said.
Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns has written to both the Minister for Culture, Heritage & Gaeltacht and the Minister for Justice and Equality asking them to address the situation.
She said: “I was shocked and outraged when I read about the intentional killing of the 23 buzzards in Cork with a banned poison. It is incredibly disheartening that someone would do this at a time when we are trying to re-establish different bird species.
"In April we had a good news story with Glengarriff Nature Reserve, in West Cork, announcing the birth of a white-tailed sea eagle chick from birds brought here from Norway.” “There has been an outcry for immediate action on this issue. I have asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage & Gaeltacht and the Minister for Justice and Equality to enable the National Parks and Wildlife Service and An Garda Síochána to pursue a successful investigation and implement preventative measures.
"This was a callous act using a banned highly-dangerous poison.
“Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated case; BirdWatch Ireland have highlighted the use of bait laced with poison to kill protected birds of prey remains and the National Parks and Wildlife Service annual report for 2017 revealed at least sixteen poison incidents and six shootings.This is why the Social Democrats have sought to establish a Garda Wildlife Crime Unit to assist in the prevention and detection of wildlife crime.
“West Cork is valued for its spectacular scenery and wildlife, it is only right that we ensure these are actively protected. More needs to be done by government to protect birds and wildlife across Ireland.”