200 birds of prey poisoned in Ireland study finds

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Over 300 bird's of prey in Ireland were found to have been poisoned or died in unnatural circumstances according to a report published by the Raptor Protocol.

The Raptor Protocol (Recording and Addressing Persecution and Threats to Our Raptors) is a collaborative project involving the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), the Veterinary Laboratory Service and the State Laboratory.

According to The Irish Times, 214 of the incidents recorded involved poisoning, 58 involved shooting, 57 road collisions, six wind turbine strikes, one trapping, one mutilation and three incidents classed as 'traumatic deaths'.

The Common Buzzard was the bird most commonly involved in an incident, followed by Red Kites, Barn Owls, Peregrine Falcon and White-tailed Eagles.

The deaths occurred between 2007 and 2019, and the classifying the cause of death involved collecting carcasses and injured birds before carrying out X-rays, postmortems, DNA sampling, toxicology and follow-up investigations.

The study began in 2011 following an EU pilot in response to the lack of formal investigation into deaths and injuries of birds of prey in Ireland. The report shows 338 incidents involving death or injury to raptors were recorded during a 12-year period.

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The report added that although an average of 26 incidents are recorded each year, the actual number is probably much higher.

“All regularly breeding native Irish raptor species were confirmed to have suffered some form of poisoning, persecution or other direct anthropogenic non-habitat related cause of injury or mortality,” the report stated.

“It is clear … that human, non-habitat related threats to Irish raptors are widespread, with incidents recorded in every county of Ireland,” it adds.

The data also points to a greater number of incidents taking place in the east of the country, with Wicklow reporting the highest number with 57.

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