The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government John Gormley T.D. has today (30/4/2009) welcomed the successful outcome to a prosecution taken by the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) of his Department in Navan District Court on Wednesday 22nd of April 09.
In November 07, Conservation Ranger Annette Lynch investigated a complaint of dying rooks in a field at Headfort Demesne. She found dead and dying rooks and bread laced with a blue substance in a recently tilled field. As she collected the rooks and bait she was challenged by a man, who appeared to be the landowner. When she identified herself and told him what she was doing he stated that he was not the landowner, had no interest in the land and refused to give his name and address. She took his registration number and traced it to defendant. She brought the rooks and bait to the University Veterinary Hospital, UCD for analysis.
Alphachloralose was found in the gizzards of the rooks and it was the blue substance laced on the bait. She confirmed with the local garda sergeant that he had not received any notice pursuant to section 14 of the Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act, 1965 that poison was laid on lands at Headfort Demesne.
One defendant was charged under W/L Acts section 22(4)(a) - Unlawful hunting of protected wild birds, and two counts under section 34 of the acts - Hunting Rooks with poisoned bait and Laying poison in a place frequented by wild birds, the second defendant was charged two counts under section 69 - Refusing to give his name and address and Obstructing an Authorised Person.
A guilty plea was entered in respect of all charges
The Judge said that not only rooks but other birds are liable to be poisoned, pointed out that there is good reason for the legislation and spoke about NPWS attempt to bring back extinct birds.
The Minister congratulated Annette for her meticulous investigation and preparation of this case. He also thanked UCD University Veterinary Hospital for the analysis carried out on the birds and the substance at no cost to NPWS.
The Minister said that at his request, officials have been working on strengthening regulations relating to the use of poisoned bait. There are regulations limiting the use of poisoned bait to specific circumstances and methods, but the Minister believes these are now insufficient, given the ongoing poisoning of birds of prey and in particular eagles under the Golden Eagle Project.
He is now considering the introduction of a system whereby poisoned meat-based bait could only be used in exceptional circumstances through license in cases in which there is no alternative and the risk of poisoning of protected species can be excluded.
*My officials are in the process of drafting proposals. I also hope to consult with the Department of Agriculture on this to ensure that maximum protection is afforded to our rare wildlife, while at the same time ensuring good farming practice. I am determined to stamp out this disgusting practice of purposeful poisoning of rare birds. I intend to have these new regulations in place as quickly as possible.*
Following consultation I hope to be in a position to introduce new regulations on this issue later this year.