The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr John Gormley, T.D., has made Regulations under the European Communities Acts making it an offence for a person to use any type of meat, fish, egg or other animal substance as bait to poison or stupefy birds or animals such as otters and pine martens, unless licensed to do so.
At the same time, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mr Brendan Smith, announced that there are now no poisons which can legally be used to kill birds or animals, apart from rats and mice.
Minister Gormley said: “These Regulations are to address the poisonings which resulted in the deaths of twelve eagles and other birds of prey earlier this year. I am very concerned that these poisoning incidents could damage the projects to re-introduce the golden eagle, white-tailed eagle and red kite which are being funded by my Department. Such actions are irresponsible as well as illegal and they give a very negative image of Ireland’s farming and tourism sectors, nationally and internationally.”
There are many ways in which problem species can be controlled. Foxes, mink and crows can be a serious problem for farmers and there are a variety of effective methods available to keep numbers in check.
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (DAFF) has confirmed however that there is no pesticide registered or approved in the Republic of Ireland for poisoning of birds or foxes. Alphachloralose was previously registered, and commonly used, to kill crows but this approved use was removed by DAFF, in line with an EU decision, in November 2008. Alphachloralose is now only registered and approved in Ireland for the control of mice. Therefore any poisoning of foxes and crows is illegal in Ireland.
There is a general agreement at ground level that the poisoning of birds of prey is the work of a very limited number of people. Both Departments are conscious of the high level of support from the general public, including the farming community, for the re-introduction projects and the calls for poisoning of these birds of prey to cease once and for all.
Minister Smith asked people who need to control rats and mice to be very careful in the use of poisons, pointing out that there is a risk that birds such as barn owls can be accidentally killed if they eat a rat that has already eaten poison. “Barn Owls are a good friend to the farmer but sadly have become scarce in Ireland due in part to accidental poisoning.”
Minister Gormley concluded: “The re-introduction of these magnificent eagles and kites into Ireland will further enhance Ireland’s environmental reputation for respecting its wildlife and enable us to harness the associated social, cultural and economic benefits. We now call on everyone to respect the law and protect these birds of prey, which are of real economic value to the rural communities in the release areas.”