Protected White-tailed eagle falls prey to illegal poisoning in Austria
Last December a protected White-tailed eagle was found poisoned in the vicinity of the city of Melk.
In February a man discovered a poisoned fox and a dead buzzard. The buzzard had a chunk of meat in the throat prepared with the poison.
In mid-April a marsh harrier was found dead. The bird lied next to four opened eggs. Again, it contained carbofuran - a dangerous poison long banned from use.
Flora Hejjas, Head of WWF White-tailed eagle protection program is appalled by the new wave of poisoning: "The possession and use of the pesticide carbofuran has been banned throughout the EU since 2008. But apparently the deadly substance is still circulating allowing ruthless people to illegally use it against wild animals."
The White-tailed eagle found dead in Melk was initially examined at the Veterinary University of Vienna. Although poisoning was suspected, the case was later proven in Germany – the bird was killed with carbofuran. "Because the toxicological studies often take a very long time, some suspected cases can often be confirmed only weeks or months after the death," Hejjas said.
As in the other recent cases it is suspected that hunters may be the offenders. Flora Hejjas calls on the Austrian hunting authorities to take the problem more seriously than they have done so far. "The hunting community should take effective actions against wildlife poisoning. The ban against the possession and use of carbofuran should be followed consistently and all misdemeanors should be punished.“
Dr. Peter Lebersorger of the Austrian Hunters Union calls the hunters not to tolerate any illegal actions in their grounds. „Hopes for higher hunting success may incline some people to breach the law. We point out that poison use is strictly prohibited not only in the hunting – it also contradicts all principles of sportsmanship and severely damages the reputation of hunters in public!"
The carbofuran poison is absolutely fatal for humans and animals. It was repeatedly misused for the production of poison baits. These baits are illegally used against dogs, cats, foxes, martens, crows and birds of prey, causing an extremely painful death.