Pigeon racing men convicted of poisoning peregrines & sparrowhawks

Four men associated with a pigeon racing club in County Waterford, Ireland, have been convicted of illegally poisoning peregrines and sparrowhawks, and other associated wildlife crimes.

The convictions are the result of surveillance and investigation by conservation rangers from the Irish Republic’s National Parks & Wildlife Service at three quarries in March and April 2014: Cappagh Quarry, Keereen Quarry and Carroll’s Cross Quarry. Live pigeon baits, smeared with poison and tied to stones or stakes had been found on a number of occasions at the top of the quarry cliffs, designed to lure in raptors. Four poisoned peregrines and two poisoned sparrowhawks had also been found.

pigeon poison wales 2012

On March 9th 2016 at Dungarvan District Court, the following individuals were convicted:

Stephen O’Brien, of 58 Congress Villas, Dungarvan, was convicted of 20 offences, including the use of a live decoy on five separate dates. He was fined 1500 Euros for each of the five dates (7,500 Euros in total) and the other 15 charges were recorded as ‘proven’.

Kevin Crotty (Chairman of Dungarvan Premier Pigeon Club) of 16 Lismore Avenue, Dungarvan, was convicted of 10 offences on five separate dates. He was fined 600 Euros for two offences and the remaining eight charges were recorded as ‘proven’.

John Crotty, of 23 Congress Villas, Dungarvan, was convicted of four offences. He was fined 700 Euros for one offence and the remaining three charges were recorded as ‘proven’.

Christopher O’Brien, of 79 Congress Villas, Dungarvan, was convicted of obstructing an Authorised Person during a search of his premises and with the illegal possession of protected wild finches. He was convicted of 16 offences. He was fined 700 Euros for one offence and the remaining 15 charges were recorded as ‘proven’. He was also ordered to forfeit a stuffed peregrine that had been found at his house.

The National Parks & Wildlife Service believes raptor persecution is a significant problem in Co Waterford and said peregrines had been a particular target, resulting in reduced breeding success. They encourage farmers and members of the public to report suspicious incidents, in confidence, to: Tel (01) 888 3242 or email nature.conservation@ahg.gov.ie

The photo shows a live pigeon decoy, smeared in poison and tied to a rock in a similar poisoning case in Wales in 2012 (photographer unknown).

25 thoughts on “Pigeon racing men convicted of poisoning peregrines & sparrowhawks”

  1. Small penalty for these criminals. I expected a gaol sentence but without that to be banned from keeping livestock for life should be the minimum.
    They got off lightly in my opinion.

    1. As far as I can tell the 7500 fine is the highest fine for a Wildlife Act offence in Ireland ever. The maximium possible fine for the direct peregrine offences would have been 5000 per offence and or 12 months in prison but I am not aware of anyone ever going to prison for a Wildlife Act offence in the Republic. In comparison with other penalties for other crimes dealt with in the District Court it is a significant penalty. Excluding appeals, I don’t believe any wildlife crime has ever been prosecuted through a higher court in Ireland.
      Brian Duffy

    1. The fact is many of their non performing pigeon stock are culled every year anyway, I think its more about producing winning pigeons than pigeon welfare yet they cannot accept a slow or “inferior” pigeon being taken by a predator. Also those keeping pigeons regularly get in birds belonging to other people who follow the other birds back to the loft. In this case and others it is these visiting or lost pigeons that are used as bait (this is so that the rings on the birds cannot be traced back to the offenders).
      Brian Duffy

  2. I agree – but it’s a start ….. please were ignored and judge spoke his mind ……… something to be noted elsewhere I feel …….. and hands are tied with regard to sentencing ………

  3. They certainly have no respect for pigeons if they do that to a live bird. Like gamekeepers they are cruel and have no regard for our wildlife, or, in this case their pigeons.

  4. Quite frankly, this behaviour is unacceptable and utterly unforgivable. The grouse moors should be abolished but, of course, they won’t be because they bring in wealthy gunmen who spend their cash in hotels and shops, etc, in Scotland.

  5. We have a similar problem here in Shropshire. Pair of peregrines poisoned last year at Clee Hill and chicks starved to death. Live pigeon bait used and pigeon fancier groups in Walsall and Cannock involved.
    It’s time the Royal Racing Pigeon Association took some action against the black sheep besmirching the name of the association. Stop killing birds of prey!

  6. Perhaps the government should take notice of what lead the men to do this sort of thing, take action regarding the overpopulation of the killing machines known as peregrines and sparrow Hawks , which kill thousands of our birds, yes thousands , every day. If the do gooders want an overpopulation of Hawks then perhaps they yes they themselves should ensure there is sufficient food for them to eat daily , let’s face it, if the Hawks were eating their cats or dogs how would they react then??, food for thought, there is always 2 sides to a story. Andrew Marney , Bromley, Kent.

    1. It’s feral pigeons that are crapping all over town centres that are very common and it’s funny how an ‘over population’ of killing machines called birds of prey hasn’t eliminated them, then again an animal can’t increase whilst its food supply dwindles – not even basic ecology, just common sense. As far as two sides to every argument goes, well there wouldn’t be an argument in the first place if there weren’t and that doesn’t mean one side hasn’t got the monopoly on selfishness, arrogance and stupidity. One of the cruellest things I ever saw was a pigeon ‘fancier’ drown an unwanted bird in a bucket of water and twice I’ve encountered racing pigeons (they were ringed) that had decided to say stuff it and hang around somewhere they were getting a better deal than back with their owner. How many of these birds are regarded as being eaten by a raptor I wonder. Apparently pigeon racing is losing supporters at about 2-3 percent per year, good sign as the ethics or rationality of many of its supporters leave a lot to be desired.

    2. Hi Andrew, I also keep pigeons, have done on and off since 1958. Over the last 16 years I have lost only 1 or 2 a year to our local Sparrow hawk. For some reason this year she has taken 8. I no longer race them but do enjoy breeding them A few do become like pets and it is obviously sad to lose them and also if it is a valuable racer – even more so. However they are a prey species and if I let them breed at will I’d end up with 100’s. I also have cats who sometimes sit in with the pigeons! However, I also love the natural world and BOP and it saddens me that I now rarely see a buzzard in my area of the Cairngorms National Park and red kites in the highlands have almost been decimated by the sporting estate gamekeepers. So although you make your point very well, in my opinion all wildlife belongs here (and to us all) so it does anger me when pigeon or gamekeepers take the law into their own hands and kill it.

    3. Andrew, the balance of nature will ensure that there is not an “overpopulation of hawks”, which is something that some farmers, gamekeepers, pigeon fanciers and Songbird Survival types, just don’t seem to understand.

      So, on that note, would you be prepared to publish the areas of the country where you consider there to be an overpopulation of raptors?

    4. Andrew, instead of ranting I suggest you nip out and buy a copy of your home county’s latest bird atlas (the excellent “Kent Breeding Bird Atlas 2008-13”) so that you can be more informed. This will tell you that the county has a population of 1,000-2,000 pairs of Sparrowhawk (up from 200-300 pairs during the previous atlas in 1988-93) , but a mere 30-40 pairs of Peregrine (up from only one pair). This, you might think, proves your point except that in the same period the population of pigeons (of all species) in the county has actually risen from 90-180,000 pairs to 250,000 or more. So the idea that these ‘killing machines’ might be exterminating pigeons is nonsense, even more so when you bear in mind pigeons are only a small % of Sparrowhawk prey (about 6% according to one source). It’s clear there’s not an excessive number of Sparrowhawks in your home county and most certainly not too many Peregrines. In fact, far from having an ‘overpopulation’ of either we’re gradually returning to more natural (and perfectly sustainable) levels of both species and one which is closer to that which existed prior to being ‘controlled’ by the game industry and decimated by pesticides like DDT.

    5. Near me, men shoot pigeons for fun,and can be seen with piles of dead pigeons beside them.when I object, am told they are doing me a favour ‘getting rid of vermin’, .they use a pigeon magnet to lure pigeons down, like great sportsmen they are.even get Italians who don’t speak English to shoot at harvest time, as the raptorsfly overhead( grouse shooting adjoining field a few weeks later) .strangely Ihave found hawk like feathers afterwards.these Italians always seem to coordinate visit with changing date of harvest, and stole my phone when I took a pic of them.so direct yr wrath to pigeon shooters who kill in vast numbers, almost daily even Easter weekend,or
      sunday at times,

  7. We have had tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers money wasted in Scotland to support research into predatory birds supposed decimation of racing pigeons….the result?.It couldnt be shown that they are a serious problem….”Perhaps government should take notice..” well they did and the pigeon fanciers haven’t got a leg to stand on. Time to shut up and obey the law like other decent folk…


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