Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Questions (1413, 1414, 1416, 1420, 1424, 1428)

Christopher O'Sullivan

Question:

1413. Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reason the deaths of 22 buzzards poisoned in late 2019 in County Cork did not appear in the Raptor Protocol 2019 report published in April 2020. [6353/20]

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Christopher O'Sullivan

Question:

1414. Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reason her Department has made no statement on the poisoning of 22 buzzards in County Cork in 2019 despite it being the largest single incident recorded; and the protocol for releasing statements on illegal poisoning incidents. [6354/20]

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Christopher O'Sullivan

Question:

1416. Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the persons or bodies that led the investigation into the poisoning of 22 buzzards in late 2019 in County Cork; the actions and lines of inquiry taken; and the outcomes of same. [6356/20]

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Duncan Smith

Question:

1420. Deputy Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her views on the reports of the largest poisoning of birds of prey for a number of years which happened recently in County Cork; if there is an investigation underway into this case; if there is funding in place and strategies to combat the systemic harm and poisoning of the under threat birds of prey; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6494/20]

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Seán Sherlock

Question:

1424. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if her attention has been drawn to a large number of birds of prey in County Cork being poisoned; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6569/20]

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Jennifer Whitmore

Question:

1428. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the details of the most recent mass poisoning of buzzards in County Cork which occurred in late 2019 including specifics of the poisoning; the process by which it was investigated; the outcome of the investigation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6957/20]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1413, 1414, 1416, 1420, 1424 and 1428 together.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of my Department is aware of this incident of poisoning.  As the matter is presently under ongoing and active investigation by the NPWS, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on this case beyond the following facts:

Following a report from a concerned landowner in West Cork, in early January this year, NPWS field staff collected 12 dead buzzards which the landowner had come across in one of his fields. Subsequent searches of the general area by NPWS located 11 further dead buzzards.

Testing of the carcasses was carried out by the Regional Veterinary Laboratory in Cork which confirmed that the cause of death was the banned insecticide Carbofuran. The use of Carbofuran products in agriculture has been banned in Ireland since June 2009.   The chemical had been shown worldwide to be toxic to much wildlife, but particularly toxic to birds. While it is no longer legally available in the European Union, it is known to be illegally procured and used by that minority of people who persecute wildlife, particularly birds of prey.

On learning of the incident, NPWS Regional staff immediately launched an intensive investigation and the Gardai at Bandon Garda Station were also alerted to the incident. More recent searches of the general area did not result in any further findings of buzzard mortalities leaving the total recorded mortalities from this incident at 23.

While the investigation is still ongoing, it is the view of NPWS that this incident was not related to any agricultural practices in the area, nor with the landowner but rather that it is a case of deliberate poisoning of wildlife.

Buzzards are a species that became extinct in Ireland the late 19th century. Having re-established themselves in Northern Ireland in the 1930’s, they have steadily colonised many counties in Ireland and have now become a welcome addition to Ireland’s avian biodiversity. Incidents such as this impede this recolonisation and are to be condemned not least at a time when the awareness and appreciation of the value of our biodiversity is on the increase.     

I am very grateful to the landowner for alerting us to this very serious incident, and local field staff are continuing with the intensive investigation into this case, including continued monitoring of the area, with a view to determining the source.  

My Department has provided funding for satellite tags for research on the movements of some of the introduced birds of prey and hen harrier and these have provided important information on poisoning. In relation to the Raptor Protocol, this is a collaborative approach between my Department, the Regional Veterinary Laboratories, and the State Laboratory to systematically determine the extent to which human actions (for example poisoning, persecution, disturbance, collisions, etc.) are threats to Ireland's native birds of prey.   My Department issues an on-line report annually providing records, information and analysis of mortality and persecution of birds of prey.   Details relating to the poisoning of the buzzards in West Cork, which I have already stated came to my Department’s attention in January this year, will be included in the Raptor Protocol Report for 2020.

Question No. 1415 answered with Question No. 1412.
Question No. 1416 answered with Question No. 1413.