30 protected birds of prey killed in Northern Ireland in three years, report claims


Dead peregrine falcon
Dead Male Peregrine Falcon

More than 30 protected birds of prey were killed in Northern Ireland in three years, according to a report on wildlife crime.

A golden eagle, white-tailed eagle and peregrine falcons were among the rare species poisoned between 2009 and 2013 although the most common casualties were buzzards and the recently-introduced red kite.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan condemned those behind the illegal attacks as reckless.

He said: “It is a great shame people here are poisoning these wonderful, majestic creatures which brighten up our skies and countryside.

“I very much condemn the reckless and illegal actions of the minority in our midst who destroy beauty with painful death, leading to the loss of such iconic species. I urge the public to be vigilant and report offenders.”

The report, published by the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime Northern Ireland (PAWNI), highlights 30 illegal poisoning or persecution incidents affecting some 33 birds including sparrowhawks and merlins.

There were also four probable raptor crimes, including another white-tailed eagle, while some birds fell victim to poisoned baits, it reported.


Dead Sparrowhawk

Superintendent Brian Kee, from the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s rural and wildlife crime unit, said a small number of individuals have shown a “continued disregard” for wildlife safety.

He said: “These actions which destroy our native wildlife are illegal and the indiscriminate use of such toxic poisons may affect not only raptors but also children, pets or livestock.”

and rabbit

Dead Rabbit & Buzzard 

It is hoped the report will help identify “hot-spot” areas, as well as increasing public awareness and education.

Author Dr Eimear Rooney, from the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group (NIRSG), said: “I cannot bear to think about the deaths of these individuals, in particular the losses of both golden and white-tailed eagles and red kites, which may have a devastating impact on the survival of these populations.”

2 comments to 30 protected birds of prey killed in Northern Ireland in three years, report claims

  • keith mills

    30 birds in three years. i will bet this is about 1% of birds actually killed and never recorded. wonder what the expert opinion on this is?

    Editor’s Comment. Totally agree Keith. In fact in the Forest of Bowland breeding peregrines and hen harriers seem to disappear with regularity each season. This year we reached a tragic milestone in Bowland as there are only a small percentage of breeding peregrines left; 17 pairs have been lost since 2010, only a single pair out of 6 nesting attempts succeeded to breed at all this year. The figures of occupied territories appears to be reducing year on year. We estimate that in the last 30 years hundreds of peregrines have been lost from Bowland (this includes adult birds, their eggs and chicks), but no actions to prevent the killing taking place has been put in place. Hen Harrier losses throughout Bowland are understandably higher of course for the same period, almost certainly well over 200 adult birds, their chicks and eggs all destroyed.

  • keith mills

    Possibly a few daft questions here but i am interested.
    How big is the Forest of Bowland?
    Is it all owned by United Utilities?
    Who leases the shooting and how much do they pay for it?
    Why do United Utilities want it? what use is it to them?
    Sorry if these are stupid questions but im just wondering if another agency, or group of interested parties couldn’t pay them the rent and not shoot?
    Talking specifically about Peregrines and hen Harriers, but including all raptors in the equation, grouse shooting followed by all other forms of shooting probably account, in one way or another, for the vast majority of illegal raptor deaths in the UK. Probably followed by the pigeon fraternity, then disturbance by climbers, ringers and other well intention ed individuals. Falconry/raptor keepers and egg collectors must account for a small but significant percentage,So would it be feasible to “take over” the management of this area to be managed as a sort of reserve for raptors? just a thought.