Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

Wildlife Protection

Christopher O'Sullivan (Cork South West, Fianna Fail)
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1405. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if her attention has been drawn to a matter (details supplied); if there is a dedicated investigation unit for the poisoning of birds of prey; the number of prosecutions for illegal bird poisoning since 2017; and the measures being taken to police banned pesticides here. [6174/20]

Photo of Josepha MadiganJosepha Madigan (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael)
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Under the Wildlife Acts and under the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 all bird species are protected and animals such as badgers, deer, otters, bats and hares are also protected. 

Officials of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department monitor compliance with the Wildlife Acts and the European Community (Birds and Natural Habitats)  Regulations 2011 across the country on an on-going basis and carry out patrols and site visits to enforce the various provisions of these Acts, as much as possible.   They also investigate reports of breaches of the Acts with a view to initiating prosecutions where there is sufficient evidence to support same.  Members of An Garda Síochána are also empowered under the Wildlife Acts and the European Communities legislation to investigate alleged offences and to prosecute if they see fit.

Over the last six years, three people have been prosecuted by the NPWS of my Department with illegal poisoning of birds. The NPWS  of my Department  is aware of the  incident referred to in details supplied  and the matter is presently under investigation. Accordingly, we cannot comment on this case beyond the facts below:

Following a report from a concerned landowner in West Cork, in early January this year, NPWS field staff collected 12 dead birds of prey  which the landowner had come across in one of his fields. Subsequent searches of the general area by NPWS located 11 further dead birds. 

While the investigation is still ongoing, NPWS are of the view that this case is an example of deliberate poisoning of wildlife, and are confident that this incident was not related to any agricultural practices in the area, nor with the landowner. I am grateful to the landowner for alerting the NPWS to this very serious incident, and local field staff are continuing with the intensive investigation into this case, including continued monitoring of the area, with a view to determining the source.  

Testing of the carcasses was carried out by the Regional Veterinary Laboratory in Cork which confirmed that the cause of death was the banned insecticide Carbofuran. The use of Carbofuran products in agriculture has been banned in Ireland since June 2009.

The chemical had been shown worldwide to be toxic to much wildlife, but particularly toxic to birds. While it is no longer legally available anywhere in Europe, it is known to be illegally procured and used by that minority of people who persecute wildlife, particularly birds of prey.

My Department has successfully prosecuted offenders who employed this method previously. NPWS Regional staff launched an intensive investigation and the Gardai at Bandon Garda Station were also alerted to the incident. Subsequent searches of the general area did not result in any further findings of mortalities leaving the total recorded mortalities from this incident at 23.

As this is an open on-going legal investigation, it would not be appropriate to comment further on this case.

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