Raptors: Their poisoning continues across Europe.

Recently Raptor Politics reported the successful prosecution of a Lincolnshire gamekeeper, 71-year-old Robert William Hebblewhite, of Appleby,Scunthorpe. Hebblewhite was fined a total £1950 after he was convicted of killing two buzzards and possessing Carbofuran, a banned poison.  After the trial the RSPB commented by saying the quantity of Carbofuran found at Hebblewhite’s home would have been enough to destroy all the birds of prey in Lincolnshire.

Only last week a summery of confirmed raptor poisoning incidents in Scotland between January – September 2012 were published. The figures showed  9 Red Kite, 2 White-tailed Eagle, 11 Buzzard, 2 Golden Eagle, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 undefined Hawk, 1 Tawny Owl and 1 Raven had all been poisoned. The complete report can be read here.

A report recently sent to Raptor Politics has highlighted the plight of raptors which are being poisoned in other European countries including Poland and the Czech Republic. Last year three poisoned white-tailed eagles were found suffering from poisoning on the Polish side of the Carpathian mountains. Thankfully after treatment all three eagles survived and two of these birds will be released in the next few weeks. The poison used in these incidents was reported to have been Carbofuran which it seems is the preferred choice of  poison being used to target raptors, not only in the UK, but also across Europe.

We have been asked by colleagues in the Czech Republic to bring to the notice of all our readers a new web site which details known incidents of confirmed raptor poisoning throughout the Republic. Followers are told Carbofuran is still killing and you can help to stop it. The web site also provides a useful link where members are brought up to date with any new incidents of poisoning. Significantly, last year in northern Moravia a tree being used by a nesting pair of white-tailed eagles was cut down  after the single eaglet had fledged. This act of vandalism was undertaken by hunters to prevent future breeding at the site. Although the pair of eagles have now almost completed the building of a replacement nest nearby, the police are continuing with their investigation into this incident. 

We are also informed that one of several reintroduced golden eagles had been recently found shot. The golden eagle in the Czech Republic had been exterminated by the early 1960’s following sustained persecution. In the last ten years efforts to reintroduce the species into northern Moravia from eaglets brought from Slovakia have so far failed. In contrast the white-tailed eagle, reintroduced into the Republic in 1986, are expanding their numbers across the Czech Republic with the core population located inside the Trebonsko Biosphere Nature Reserve in Southern Bohemia. The current Czech population of white-tailed eagles is now estimated to have reached 70 breeding pairs. What is significant in this case, the initial 9 birds used in the reintroduction programme had each been propagated in captivity in West Germany.

The most recent news from the Republic is telling us that already this year a pair of Golden Eagles are currently constructing a new nest inside the  borders of a remote army base. We can only hope that success is just around the corner. We wish Otto Zavalsky (PROJECT LEADER) and all his colleagues involved in this worthwhile initative every success.

 Please follow the attached link to the Czech Poisoning web site here:

The Conservation Project “Return of the Golden Eagle to the Czech Republic”
Carried out by the Primary Organization “Czech Association of Conservationists” in Novy Jicin – Conservation Station in Bartosovice na Morave in cooperation with the Administration of Protected Landscape of Moravian-Silesian Beskydy and the Ostrava Zoo

The aim of the five-year project is to release 15 to 20 golden eagles in the Moravian-Silesian Beskydy Mountains in order to create a stable nesting population as was the case in Beskydy 150 years ago. Within this project, young Slovak golden eagles will be transferred to Bird of Prey Station in the rural village of Bartosovice with the consent of government institutions and Slovak nature conversation organizations.

In all cases, these young eaglets will be the “second born”, which are normally killed by older siblings. Golden eagles are bound to the place where they hatch and new couples populate areas solely in the close vicinity of the parental couple. Therefore, it is almost impossible for the population of the golden eagle to spread naturally into the Czech Republic from elswhere.

In June 2006, the first four young birds, a few weeks old, were transferred to Bartosovice. At first, they were placed under the care of a 33-year old foster mother, Dina.  Dina, an eagle, had been injured by hunters and would not be able to survive in the wild.

The young eaglets and Dina were placed in a large aviary, in which landing platforms were installed – true copies of eagle nests. As soon as the birds were able to manage planing, flight and landing and their feather coats had “matured” completely, it was possible to open the aviary. However, they are still fed by people after having been released until they learn to hunt by themselves.  This dramatically increases their chance of surviving in the wild.

It is important to point out that feeding is carried out in a way that the birds do not see the people who are bringing their food.

View more information relating to this project here:


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