A young hen harrier named Mary that hatched on the Isle of Man in 2019 and had been satellite-tagged by the RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE Project was found poisoned on a pheasant shoot in Co Meath in Ireland in November 2019. Tests revealed she had consumed the banned poison Carbofuran which was found on a pigeon bait and on other meat baits next to her corpse.
We blogged about the illegal killing of this hen harrier earlier this year (see here) and it was quite evident from the press statements from both BirdWatch Ireland and the RSPB that there were concerns that the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the Gardai (Irish Police) could be doing more in terms of investigation, enforcement and liaison.
[Hen harrier Mary found illegally poisoned on a pheasant shoot, photo by BirdWatch Ireland]
Seven months on from her death, those early concerns appear to have been justified.
Have a look at this open letter, written by Manx BirdLife (Isle of Man) and addressed to the National Parks & Wildlife Service (Irish Republic) calling for transparency about any criminal investigation which may, or may not, have taken place in to the illegal killing of this hen harrier.
This is a really interesting, and welcome, move by Manx BirdLife. It’s an indication of the growing frustration around the ongoing illegal killing of hen harriers (and other raptors) and demonstrates an unwillingness just to sit back and watch it happen time and time again without anyone being held to account.
For all we know the NPWS may have conducted a thorough investigation and been thwarted by the usual problems of finding sufficient evidence for a prosecution, but that information should certainly be made public because otherwise it looks like they just don’t care and sends a message to other would-be criminals that this sort of offence will go unpunished.
It’ll be interesting to see what sort of response, if any, Manx BirdLife receives from the NPWS.