Northern Ireland

Eighth red kite bird dies from poisoning in Irish Republic

Blue Purple G with another Red Kite in 2007
Image caption The Red Kites were brought from Wales and released in 2007

A project in the Irish Republic aimed at reintroducing the Red Kite, a native bird of prey, has suffered a setback after an eighth bird was found dead from illegal poisoning since 2007.

Ireland's National Parks and Wildlife Service have confirmed that the breeding female bird, which had been nesting on a farm near Redcross, County Wicklow, was found near Brittas Bay late last year.

"These birds are specialist scavengers, that's why they are finding these food sources which are sadly poisoned," Dr Marc Ruddock, Red Kite project manager said.

"They are designed to clean up the countryside.

"These illegal actions jeopardise local biodiversity and the economically important and deserved reputation and profile natural Wicklow cherishes."

The Red Kite became extinct in Ireland in the 18th century due to poisoning and woodland clearance.

Although the species are natural scavengers, they feed extensively on earthworms, insects and small mammals such as rabbits.

The project follows the success of several Red Kite reintroduction projects in Britain and involves transporting the birds under licence from Wales and releasing them in selected locations in the east of Ireland.

Poison baits

The poisoned bird, known as Blue Purple G, was one of the first young kites brought from Wales and released in July 2007.

She had found a mate and was known to have successfully bred and raised three young at Redcross.

Jimmy Deenihan, Minister for arts, heritage and the gaeltacht, said irresponsible and illegal use of poison baits had killed pets as well as the birds of prey.

"Seven Red Kites are known to have been killed in this way in County Wicklow since the project began," he said.

"I would appeal to people to act responsibly when it comes to implementing pest control measures, and they should never be at the cost of causing death to birds of prey and other wildlife.

"The irresponsible use of poison baits has also killed numerous working dogs and domestic pets, in some cases where families had just taken their dog for a walk in the woods."

Penalties for illegally poisoning birds of prey can be up to 5,000 euros or 12 years in prison.