Disgusting: 23 buzzards poisoned in Cork

Instinctively, there are two things that come to mind with a story like this: First, lock them up and throw away the key.

Second: Why on earth would anyone want to deliberately poison a buzzard, of all birds?

“Cork South-West TD Christopher O’Sullivan said that he was “appalled” to learn of the “massacre of 23 common buzzards”.

It comes after independent conservation organisation BirdWatch Ireland condemned the largest poisoning of birds of prey in the country in decades after it recently learned of the illegal poisoning of the birds.

The birds were recovered last December after a concerned farmer reported the dead birds on his land to the National Parks and Wildlife Service and BirdWatch Ireland.

“There is a lot of farmer bashing going on when incidents like this happen but it was the farmer himself who reported this incident who obviously had become very attached to these buzzards and loved having that wildlife in the area,” Deputy O’Sullivan said.

The Fianna Fáil TD said that it is his understanding that the birds were recovered between the Timoleague and Bandon areas which are within his own constituency.”

When some barbarian shoots or poisons an eagle, the reasons for them doing so are at least basically understandable: Eagles do feed on lambs. Not extensively, and not so many lambs as to make a major difference (lambs are not a core part of an eagle’s diet) but they do take them. But a Buzzard?

Buzzards are much smaller birds, not much bigger than a Raven. The largest prey they will take, generally, is a rabbit. They’ll also eat frogs, and earthworms, and mice, and rats. But lambs? They’re too small to catch and carry off a lamb.

Third: Is it possible that this was a mistake? That the buzzards weren’t the intended target? That seems highly unlikely, but it should be considered.

Carbofuran is a lethal poison, and it’s particularly lethal in birds. A single pellet will kill a golden eagle. The fact that the buzzards ate it would suggest that it was put in meat baits – so somebody was targeting something that ate meat. Foxes are the only other possible target for that kind of barbarism, but who would want to devastate the local fox population like that?

What we know is that somebody did this. We do not know why, unfortunately, but even if we did, there’s not going to be any justification for it that stands up to a moment’s scrutiny.

The only consolation in all of this is that although the story is only coming to light today, this happened last December. Which means, at least, there aren’t nests full of starving buzzard chicks waiting, in vain, for their parents to come back and feed them.

Whoever did this is a monster, and they should be made an example of. But that won’t happen. We’ll all have forgotten about it by next week, won’t we?

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