23 buzzards illegally poisoned with Carbofuran in single incident

The Irish Raptor Study Group and BirdWatch Ireland have reported the illegal poisoning of 23 buzzards in a single incident in Co Cork.

The following statement has been published by BirdWatch Ireland:

Mass poisoning of buzzards in County Cork

We have recently learned of the illegal poisoning of 23 Buzzards in County Cork. This incident is the single largest poisoning of birds of prey in this country in decades and the largest since the legislation was amended to ban the use of poison meat baits in 2010. We understand that the 23 Buzzards were recovered at the scene last December and were sent for testing under the Raptor Protocol, which subsequently confirmed that all had died due to ingesting the highly toxic and banned substance, Carbofuran.

[Photo via Irish Raptor Study Group]

The targeted use of bait laced with poison to kill protected birds of prey remains widespread and one of the most common substances used is Carbofuran, despite being banned. This incident follows the death of Mary, the satellite-tagged Hen Harrier, late last year, also illegally poisoned, also by Carbofuran (for more details see here and here).

These incidents, along with the countless other similar horrific poisonings of birds of prey, demonstrate that current efforts are simply not sufficient in stopping the persecution of our birds of prey. History dictates that incidents such as this mass poisoning will continue to occur unless appropriate action is taken. While we do not know who is responsible for this incident, we do know that the motives of those that persecute birds of prey are inherently flawed and display an ignorance and lack of understanding of our environment. Buzzards and other birds of prey are indicators of a healthy countryside and perform a vital role in the ecosystem, we cannot and should not tolerate the damaging actions of a minority to eradicate them from our countryside.

We understand that NPWS held an investigation, but that similar to the poisoning of Mary, those responsible were not held accountable. Why is more action not being taken to tackle Carbofuran and other illegal poisons, which are horrendously toxic and pose a serious threat to humans as well as to wildlife? Does an unwitting person trying to assist a stricken bird have to die before the State finally takes action?

We will be liaising with NPWS, we offer our support to them and urge a unified approach to tackling wildlife crimes. Unless proper resources are allocated, to include an established wildlife crime unit and greater powers and resources to investigate and enforce the legislation, incidents such as this one will continue without consequence. We will bring you more on this incident once we have further details.


UPDATE 10 May 2020: Local politician seeks ‘full investigation’ in to mass poisoning of buzzards (here)

25 thoughts on “23 buzzards illegally poisoned with Carbofuran in single incident”

  1. Sadly just the very small tip of a very large iceberg on the Island of Ireland and in the UK.
    Including non breeders we have many hundreds of thousands of Common Buzzard in these nations now that they are a massively successful range – expanding species largely without natural predators.
    Many thousands are killed annually by game shoots.
    The fact most of these individual birds would die anyway in their early years without ever breeding, or would rapidly be replaced as breeders, is irrelevant in the context of illegal and highly dangerous, irresponsible persecution.
    Only game shoots feel that there is anything to be gained by killing them.

    Keep up the pressure !

  2. Recently carbofuran was used to kill three endangered giant ibis n Cambodia, an estimated 1 – 2 percent of the global population. A waterhole was poisoned so the birds could be collected and eaten which is mind boggling. https://www.khmertimeskh.com/50714406/three-of-cambodias-national-bird-the-giant-ibis-killed-in-protected-area/ . Very sadly the issue isn’t confined to the British Isles or to raptor persecution. I know sod all about chemistry, but would it be possible for the manufacturers of any substance that can be used illegitimately like this to create additives that would stop wildlife from ingesting it, but which wouldn’t affect their role as contact pesticides for problematic insects? I know our gas supply is actually odour free, but they add a very stinky agent so we can detect gas leaks. A disgusting smell probably wouldn’t be much of a deterrent for birds, but could it work if the taste of carbofuran (|which I can’t believe would be tasty to start off with) where it’s still sold legally was made so repellent that nothing that got even the tiniest taste of it would continue eating bait it’s poisoned with? I know a lot of these chemicals are extremely toxic and fast acting, but would it be possible to reduce the level of ingestion, if it can’t be prevented totally, to that which is survivable? This type of poisoning is becoming a global conservation issue and I can’t see that changing anytime soon. Until poisons like this can be made redundant or legislated against changes at the point of manufacture might be the best option as well as better detection and punishment of misuse. Surely there are some genius chemists out there that can come up with something.

    1. carbofuran is banned in western developed countries for some considerable time for a very good reason, it is supremely toxic at low doses. Yet the manufacturers knowing this still make it and sell it into the rest of the world with lower standards of safety for both wildlife and people. If you want to read more read this although it is expensive:- Carbofuran and Wildlife Poisoning: Global…Global Perspectives and Forensic Approaches by Ngaio Richards. The manufacture, use and export of this stuff should be banned, those in the western world where its use for anything is illegal should get jail time for possession as it is the poisoners favourite but of course capitalism has no morals.
      As to this poisoning of all these buzzards in rural Ireland, its a tragedy for the buzzards and a wildlife crime of enormous proportion, yes I accept its only relatively recently Ireland banned poison baits. however this should be properly and thoroughly investigated with no stone unturned, penalties for the guilty should absolutely maximised. My own solution would be rightly x’d out as I find this truly sickening and shocking to the point I want it to stop now.,

      1. Aye this has been pretty standard shite that wouldn’t be allowed here is redirected elsewhere, I’m reminded of African school children being given free cigarettes to get them hooked on smoking as a marketing strategy. Global bans on Carbofuran and equivalent poisons need to be introduced and enforced then, I wonder if the big conservation players will come forward and do something about it? You are dead right about capitalism having no morals what’s been happening in the USA in particular with public safety being put firmly and very blatantly behind the stock market and keeping the money rolling in for those who think they can insulate themselves from the pandemic is beyond shocking.

  3. Can anyone tell me what carbofuran looks like ? Is it a powder or pellets and what colour ?

    1. It’s a white crystalline solid at room temperature. Not very soluble in water but highly soluble in a range of organic solvents, which I presume would be the preferred delivery method onto a meat-based bait for example. It is highly toxic to humans as well as raptors – really nasty shit.

      1. Stephen, that is absolutely correct for the pure substance but it is “normally” supplied as the commercial pesticide, that is a slate grey or dark blue granule a little smaller up to about the same size as rapeseed. It was mainly used as a nematicide being drilled into the soil at the same time as the crop was planted. Birds or mammals are usually dead close to or on the bait with clenched feet as the die in convulsions, a horrible death. As such it ought not be difficult for the police to narrow down the list of suspects based on where the victims/baits are. Were this a crime in Spain the culprit would be banned from countryside type employment probably for life as well as jail time and a huge fine, sadly a fat chance of that happening anytime soon in the UK or Eire.

        1. Thanks for the detail Paul. That is indeed horrific. Given the toxicity and the illegality of possession of this stuff it seems incredible to me that anyone found in possession would not receive a automatic custodial sentence.

  4. 😢x23! My god I have no words for this👹👹👹!!! Xxx

    Sent from Sky Yahoo Mail for iPhone

  5. Farmer in xxxxxxxxxxxxx poisoning Buzzards etc. NPWS Ranger notified, refused to investigate as hes friends with locals.
    HARE killed and used as bait, also hen carcasses.

    [Ed: Hi Amanda. The name of the village can’t be published in this context because if he’s the only farmer in that location it makes him identifiable. Accusations of criminality against a named individual are libellous unless proven in court]

  6. What psychological damage turns human beings into “gamekeepers”?? These deranged beings were once a cute little baby to some proud parents. I would feel a complete failure if my little boy turned into a “psychcopathic animal killer”. They even join a big club, there`s thousands of them!! and… they get paid to do it.!!

    [Ed: There’s no suggestion that gamekeepers were involved in this poisoning incident]

  7. If the Ranger refused to act, then he should be held as an accessory to the crime, for enabling others to continue their depredations.

  8. Those involved need to be made accountable for the deaths of these innocent birds of prey , Long prison sentences need to be put in force

  9. Crimes against our Wildlife need to be addressed & laws put in place to punish the perpetrators. To do nothing only shows how weak the law is & the Police along with the Justice System need a complete overhaul. This is an utterlt disgraceful act of Wonton Cruelty & charges need to be laid. What a disgrace this country is to not Protect it’s own Wildlife. Extinction is forever..

  10. This is so sad what’s wrong with these people this offence needs to be a five yr jail term and a 5000 euro fine my god I am sick to my stomach

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