European Eagles under Threat.

In January we reported the discovery by ornithologists of two White-tailed eagles which had been found dead in the Czech Republic, read the account here. The first corpse was discovered on the 11th January close to the village monastery at Nepomuk about half a kilometre from fishing ponds near the town of Telc. Scientists who carried out an autopsy confirmed the male eagle had been poisoned by carbofuran. The second dead eagle was discovered in mid January near the village of Klášter, about 30 kilometre south of Pilzen in Bohemia . Toxicology results have now established the second eagle had also been poisoned by carbofuran.


The poisoned White-tailed eagle found near Pilzen in the Czech Republic this year

Scientists have stated the total number of White-tailed eagles confirmed poisoned inside the Czech Republic in the last twelve months is four. They are also saying they believe up to 10 White-tailed eagles are being poisoned each year; red and black kites, peregrine, rough-legged and common buzzards, magpies, crows, ravens, otters and also domestic dogs and cats are also among the victims.

Even though poison baiting in the open has been prohibited in the Czech Republic for more than 50 years, it has become a trendy method of pest control lately according to one scientist. FURADAN, a widely available insecticide inside the Republic containing carbofuran, is most frequently abused for this purpose.


On the 27th January an Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) was found in distress after being shot near the village of Raykova Mogila, Svilengrad, in the region, Sakar. This discovery was made only one week after a White-tailed eagle was found injured in the same region of Bulgaria.


Imperial Eagle shot near the village of Raykova Mogila

In an attempt to save the Imperial Eagle’s life the injured bird was transported to the Green Balkans’ Wildlife Rescue Centre at Stara Zagora by members of the “Lesser Kestrel Recovery team. After an initial inspection of the birds injuries it was revealed the eagle was approximately 3 years of age and had sustained damage on the left wing and sternum. The veterinary specialist who carried out the thorough examination and X-ray of the damage was able to confirm the eagle had been shot.


Examining the Wing for lead shot

The team at the Green Balkans’ Centre are now very hopeful that despite the serious damage, the eagle will recover as a result of the specialized treatment and on-going specialist care.


The damage to the leg being examined

It is particularly worrying  that less than a week before the Imperial Eagle had been found, in the same area, members of the Green Balkans Wildlife Rescue Centre had located another victim of hunters –  A White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla). Unfortunately, this bird could not be saved and despite medical assistance died from its wounds caused by gun shot pellets.


A closer look at the damage caused to the leg

A spokesperson for the Green Balkans’ team has now expressed serious concern that despite the fact these majestic raptors are protected by both Bulgarian and the European legislation, hunters in the Raikova Mogila village region are shooting these birds deliberately.


X-ray showing the lead pellets

In the past two months the Green Balkans’ Rescue Centre are reporting they have received seven shot birds of prey. The significant fact here is that such cases are become increasingly frequent, with injured raptors brought into the centre for treatment almost daily.


X-ray showing the lead pellets

Despite the two confirmed shootings of the Imperial and White-tailed eagle being reported to the Prosecutor’s Office in Haskovo, no one has been brought to justice for these serious wildlife crimes.

Although common Buzzards are the most frequent victims of the hunters guns, this year species such as northern Goshawk, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, and White-tailed Eagle are on the “black list”….

The Green Balkans’ team are aware of the fact that few of the hunters’ victims are lucky enough to be found and given treatment which may save their lives. Every year, increasing numbers of birds, estimated to be in the hundreds, fall victims to hunting activities and die undetected out there in the wild….


At least 4 White-tailed eagles are also known to have been either shot or poisoned in Germany in the last two years. The single image below shows one of the adult birds shot. Many additional eagles killed go undetected.


Adult White-tailed eagle shot in Schleswig Holstein

Raptor Politics wishes to thank the Green Balkans’ Wildlife Rescue Centre, in particular  Dr. Hristina Klisurova, for allowing details and images to be republished here.



1 comment to European Eagles under Threat.

  • It is such a shame to see these magnificent birds being shot and poisoned ! These people should take time out, observe these eagles and then hopefully they’d begin to appreciate their presence and beauty.