Investigations are ongoing by the relevant authorities into the poisoning of 23 common buzzards on land in Co. Cork in recent months.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), under the remit of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, is aware of the incident and the matter is under investigation, a department spokesperson confirmed.

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 the NPWS located 11 further dead buzzards, the spokesperson added.

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.

While Carbofuran is no longer legally available anywhere in Europe, it is known to be illegally procured and used by that minority of people who persecute wildlife, particularly birds of prey, the authority representative said.

Noting that the NPWS has prosecuted offenders who employed this method previously, the spokesperson said NPWS regional staff launched an intensive investigation and the Gardaí at Bandon Garda Station were also alerted to the incident.

Subsequent 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, NPWS’s view is that all of the information and evidence is that this can only have been a case of deliberate poisoning of wildlife. The NPWS is confident that this incident was not related to any agricultural practices in the area, nor with the landowner.

Buzzards are a species that became extinct in Ireland the late 19th century. Having re-established themselves in Northern Ireland in the 1930s, they have steadily colonised many counties in Ireland and have now become a welcome addition to Ireland’s avian biodiversity, according to the department.

Buzzards are a protected species under the Wildlife Acts and this deliberate poisoning is an offence under this act, the representative stressed, adding:

The NPWS is 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 of this criminal offence.

As this is an open on-going legal investigation, the NPWS cannot comment further on this case, the spokesperson concluded.