This picture breaks our hearts

The bodies of two white-tailed sea eagles, found in Derrynane, Co Kerry, and Glengarriff, Co Cork.

(Picture: Valerie O'Sullivan/Irish White-tailed Sea Eagle Reintroduction Project)

The bird found in Glengarriff on January 18 has been confirmed as having been poisoned.

Tests are ongoing at the State Laboratory in Celbridge on the body of the second eagle, found at Derrynane, near Caherdaniel in Co Kerry.

(Picture: Cosme Sanchez, pathologist at the Regional Veterinary Laboratory in Cork, carries out a post mortem on one of the eagles)

Some 100 white-tailed sea eagles were introduced to the Killarney National Park from Norway over the past five years.

Twenty six of those have now been recovered dead, 12 of them poisoned, according to scientists overseeing the project.

The white-tailed eagle project is one of a number of raptor reintroduction schemes managed by the Golden Eagle Trust in partnership with the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Environment.

“Illegal poisoning continues to be a problem for the eagle population throughout Ireland. Last year we lost two birds to poisoning in Mayo and Donegal so this latest loss suggests that the problem hasn’t gone away”, said Dr. Allan Mee, Project Manager of the White-tailed Eagle Reintroduction.

“Over the last few years we feel we have made good progress in tackling the poisoning problem in Kerry, with the cooperation of the farming organisations and Teagasc, so we are disappointed to lose another bird to poisoning.

"Everyone should now be well aware of the ban on poisons and the danger posed to wildlife, farm dogs and pets by their use. There are viable alternatives to the use of poisons and the vast majority of farmers now use these effectively to avoid losses at lambing time.”

(Picture: Clenched talons are regarded as an indication of poisoning)

White-tailed eagles nested in Ireland for the first time in over 100 years last year when a pair laid eggs in a nest in Co. Clare.

Although this nest failed to hatch a chick hopes are high that 2013 will be the breakthrough year for the reintroduction project.

“We know of six pairs that could build nests and breed in Ireland in 2013, including four pairs in Kerry, one in Clare and one in Galway”, Dr. Mee added.

“We hope that one or more of these pairs will nest and produce chicks which will be the first Irish hatched eagles in over 100 years."

(HAT TIP: Seán Mac an tSíthigh)

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