It has been a distressing start to the year for our Spanish Imperial Eagles and something similar is also happening in Ireland. A ninth Red Kite has been poisoned since a re-introduction programme started in Ireland in 2007. If you are caught poisoning birds of prey there you can be fined €5000 or get 12 years in prison. These would seem to be slightly stiffer jail sentences than here in Spain where at least three years can be given for killing endangered birds.
Red Kite (Milvus migrans)
And endangered the Red Kite is. It is listed on the IUCN Red List as Near Threatened. Since they are scavengers mainly they are very susceptible to poisoning where poisoned baits are left for them. And since they also eat mice, voles, shrews, young hares and rabbits they can´t cause any problems to farmers but in fact help them. So why are these baits left out? To kill foxes and crows most likely, but you never know. Such an indescriminate method of killing is tragic and despicable. Hopefully the culprits will be found both in Ireland and in Spain. We need a few highly visible convictions for these crimes to help deter others from continuing the practice.
Hopefully the four Red Kites I saw within the last two weeks in the shots above won´t fall foul of these criminal acts.