Tag Archives: poison

Native birds found dead, believed poisoned, on northern Victorian property

ABC Shepparton By Rhiannon Tuffield Warwick Long and Bronwen O’Shea

Authorities have discovered more than 120 dead native birds, believed to have been poisoned, on a rural property in northern Victoria.

Police and officers from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) raided a property near Violet Town after receiving multiple reports from the community.

They found the carcasses of 76 wedge-tailed eagles, a number of kites, hawks, falcons and other species including a kookaburra, a cockatoo and a number of kangaroo joeys.

Some of the dead animals were found in a freezer, while the skeletons of dozens of birds were found in a paddock.

Test results determined the species had been poisoned, leading DELWP to broaden its investigation.

The discovery follows multiple reports and investigations into bird deaths in the region in the past five years, and is the second mass killing of wedge-tailed eagles in Victoria in two years.

“We’ve had reports going back at least 12 months and indicate there are varying stages of decay, and all that is left is skeletons and some feathers,” DELWP spokesman Greg Chant said.

“Other birds were fresh, indicating this activity unfortunately has been going on undetected for a while.”

Community warned of deaths for years

Members of the nearby Sheep Pen Creek Land Management Group wrote to the Environment Minister and the DELWP on August 1, voicing their frustration that more hadn’t been done to stop wedge-tailed eagle deaths in their region.

The letter said that for many years there had been knowledge about the illegal killing of wildlife and warnings to authorities about who was suspected.

“When our group or concerned landholders have contacted your department, we have been told that there is nothing they can do without clear evidence showing that the landowners allegedly responsible for these deliberate killings have committed the crime,” the group wrote.

“As farmers and progressive landholders, we do not think that this response is adequate, as it perpetuates a culture where it is possible for a minority of landowners to continue poisoning these wonderful animals because the chances of being caught or prosecuted are so small.”


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Native birds found dead, believed poisoned, on northern Victorian property

ABC Shepparton By Rhiannon Tuffield Warwick Long and Bronwen O’Shea

Updated yesterday at 4:46pm

Close up of a wedge-tailed eagle skull in a green paddock

PHOTO: The discovery was described by one official as “horrific”. (Supplied: DELWP)RELATED STORY: Farm worker jailed for 14 days and fined for poisoning 406 wedge-tailed eagles

Authorities have discovered more than 120 dead native birds, believed to have been poisoned, on a rural property in northern Victoria.

WARNING: This article contains images that people may find disturbing.

Key points:

  • More than 100 animals, mostly wedge-tailed eagles, found in varying stages of decay during raid in regional Victoria
  • Police also found dead joeys, a kookaburra and a cockatoo in a freezer
  • Residents want harsher penalties for people found to have killed native animals for financial gain

Police and officers from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) raided a property near Violet Town after receiving multiple reports from the community.

They found the carcasses of 76 wedge-tailed eagles, a number of kites, hawks, falcons and other species including a kookaburra, a cockatoo and a number of kangaroo joeys.

Some of the dead animals were found in a freezer, while the skeletons of dozens of birds were found in a paddock.

Test results determined the species had been poisoned, leading DELWP to broaden its investigation.

The discovery follows multiple reports and investigations into bird deaths in the region in the past five years, and is the second mass killing of wedge-tailed eagles in Victoria in two years.

“We’ve had reports going back at least 12 months and indicate there are varying stages of decay, and all that is left is skeletons and some feathers,” DELWP spokesman Greg Chant said.

“Other birds were fresh, indicating this activity unfortunately has been going on undetected for a while.”

The skeleton of a native bird in a green, leafy paddock

PHOTO: Some of the skeletal remains found on a property at Violet Town. (Supplied: DELWP)

Community warned of deaths for years

Members of the nearby Sheep Pen Creek Land Management Group wrote to the Environment Minister and the DELWP on August 1, voicing their frustration that more hadn’t been done to stop wedge-tailed eagle deaths in their region.

The letter said that for many years there had been knowledge about the illegal killing of wildlife and warnings to authorities about who was suspected.

“When our group or concerned landholders have contacted your department, we have been told that there is nothing they can do without clear evidence showing that the landowners allegedly responsible for these deliberate killings have committed the crime,” the group wrote.

“As farmers and progressive landholders, we do not think that this response is adequate, as it perpetuates a culture where it is possible for a minority of landowners to continue poisoning these wonderful animals because the chances of being caught or prosecuted are so small.”

Person with blue gloves loads feathered remains of eagle into a grey plastic bag

PHOTO: Investigators collected the remains of dozens of wedge-tailed eagles. (Supplied: DELWP)

The group’s chairman, Doug Robinson, said he was happy to see something being done, but that authorities needed to listen more to communities that feared native animals were being killed.

“I think it has just left people feeling powerless, that they suspected and reported it and not seen action take place [for years] as a result,” he said.

“In that sense we are delighted that the department has responded so effectively in this case now.”

He said the group wanted formal inspections and warnings for those suspected of breaking the law, as well as harsher penalties, including bans on farmers growing crops or livestock, if they’ve been found to have killed native animals for financial gain.

Discovery horrifies neighbours

Violet Town resident Libby Woodward said she was “horrified” by the discovery.

“I hope the people responsible are caught and punished, and I hope that that will be a lesson to other farmers not to do it,” she said.

“Mostly I just want them to stop, because it’s just a terrible blight on our lives.”

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Native birds found dead, believed poisoned, on northern Victorian property

ABC Shepparton By Rhiannon Tuffield Warwick Long and Bronwen O’Shea

Updated yesterday at 4:46pm

Close up of a wedge-tailed eagle skull in a green paddock

PHOTO: The discovery was described by one official as “horrific”. (Supplied: DELWP)

Authorities have discovered more than 120 dead native birds, believed to have been poisoned, on a rural property in northern Victoria. Police and officers from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) raided a property near Violet Town after receiving multiple reports from the community.

They found the carcasses of 76 wedge-tailed eagles, a number of kites, hawks, falcons and other species including a kookaburra, a cockatoo and a number of kangaroo joeys. Some of the dead animals were found in a freezer, while the skeletons of dozens of birds were found in a paddock. Test results determined the species had been poisoned, leading DELWP to broaden its investigation.

The discovery follows multiple reports and investigations into bird deaths in the region in the past five years, and is the second mass killing of wedge-tailed eagles in Victoria in two years.

“We’ve had reports going back at least 12 months and indicate there are varying stages of decay, and all that is left is skeletons and some feathers,” DELWP spokesman Greg Chant said. “Other birds were fresh, indicating this activity unfortunately has been going on undetected for a while.”

The skeleton of a native bird in a green, leafy paddock

PHOTO: Some of the skeletal remains found on a property at Violet Town. (Supplied: DELWP)

Community warned of deaths for years

Members of the nearby Sheep Pen Creek Land Management Group wrote to the Environment Minister and the DELWP on August 1, voicing their frustration that more hadn’t been done to stop wedge-tailed eagle deaths in their region. The letter said that for many years there had been knowledge about the illegal killing of wildlife and warnings to authorities about who was suspected.

“When our group or concerned landholders have contacted your department, we have been told that there is nothing they can do without clear evidence showing that the landowners allegedly responsible for these deliberate killings have committed the crime,” the group wrote. “As farmers and progressive landholders, we do not think that this response is adequate, as it perpetuates a culture where it is possible for a minority of landowners to continue poisoning these wonderful animals because the chances of being caught or prosecuted are so small.”

Person with blue gloves loads feathered remains of eagle into a grey plastic bag

PHOTO: Investigators collected the remains of dozens of wedge-tailed eagles. (Supplied: DELWP)

The group’s chairman, Doug Robinson, said he was happy to see something being done, but that authorities needed to listen more to communities that feared native animals were being killed.

“I think it has just left people feeling powerless, that they suspected and reported it and not seen action take place [for years] as a result,” he said.

“In that sense we are delighted that the department has responded so effectively in this case now.”

He said the group wanted formal inspections and warnings for those suspected of breaking the law, as well as harsher penalties, including bans on farmers growing crops or livestock, if they’ve been found to have killed native animals for financial gain.

Discovery horrifies neighbours

Violet Town resident Libby Woodward said she was “horrified” by the discovery.

“I hope the people responsible are caught and punished, and I hope that that will be a lesson to other farmers not to do it,” she said. “Mostly I just want them to stop, because it’s just a terrible blight on our lives.”

Wildlife officer wearing black gloves takes photos of a plastic bag held up by second wildlife officer.

PHOTO: The dead birds were discovered during raid on a property near Violet Town. (Supplied: DELWP)

Ms Woodward said farmers needed to be better educated about the role eagles played in the ecosystem.

“The eagles do more good than they do harm, because they kill rabbits and hares and young foxes and feral cats,” she said. “The fact that we have less of them is just a terrible thing because we have more problems with rabbits and hares. It’s causing us to have erosion and all sorts of problems because they’re missing, and farmers need to be educated that they’re not the problem that they think they are.”

Eagle deaths harm environment

The native wedge-tailed eagle — a legally protected species — is on the endangered species list due to a negative stigma that has seen it butchered by farmers in the past. All native birds are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975 and deliberately killing them carries a penalty of up to $39,652 and/or six to 24 months’ imprisonment.

Mr Chant said there was a common misconception that the eagles swooped down and carried livestock away, adding that he was concerned the killings were impacting the bird population.

“I’d like to think this [is the only case], because if it’s more widespread than we think, well the impact it’s having on wedge-tail populations in Victoria might not be sustainable for much longer if we keep seeing these mass killings.”

He said he believed that in the absence of the dominant eagle, other birds were attracted to the area which was causing more birds to die.

“It’s horrific. Our officers have taken this job on because they have a love and a deep appreciation for nature, and to be walking across paddocks and finding the iconic eagle species dead and curled up in paddocks, it’s quite difficult.

“We’re very keen to determine why these eagles died or how they died, and we are very determined to find out who is responsible for this activity.”

No charges have been laid and the department is still investigating.


Birds with ‘blood coming out of their mouths’ fall from sky, on to primary school grounds

Elizabeth Henson, The AdvertiserJuly 12, 2019 8:54pm

Some of the Corellas that were suspected of being poisoned. Picture: Caspers Bird Rescue.

At least 50 birds with “blood coming out of their mouths” have fallen from the sky and landed in a primary school north of Adelaide, horrifying young students.

The RSPCA, the Environment and Water Department and the Primary Industries and Regions Department are investigating the incident that occurred at One Tree Hill Primary School, in front of children in Out of School Hours and Vacation Care at the site, on Wednesday afternoon. The school posted on its Facebook page that there were “no survivors,” saying the wild corellas were believed to have been poisoned.

“I received a distressing phone call from a worker at school who was finding the very sick birds all over the school,” the post read. The children in vacation care were very upset at the scene of birds falling from the sky and in pain with blood coming out of their mouths.”

“The children were so caring and wanted to make sure the birds were getting some help.”

The post went on to thank the local wildlife rescue organisation – Caspers Bird Rescue – for attending the school and collecting the birds. Caspers Bird Rescue co-founder Jess King, 26, told The Advertiser authorities needed to get to the bottom of how the mass death occurred.

“Somebody needs to answer as to what has happened,” she said. “Regardless of whether it was an accident or not, you don’t just go throwing poison down (recklessly).”

Ms King said Caspers Bird Rescue took the birds to veterinarians in Para Hills and Roseworthy for treatment, however all but one to be euthanased.

“There was no way to treat them – they’ve all ingested so much,” she said. “It’s quite devastating to be completely honest.”

“In the five and a half years we’ve been active…we have not seen something like this before and neither have the vets.”

Initially, the school believed all of the birds had died. However, Caspers Bird Rescue co-founder Sarah King said one corella had survived against all odds.

“That’s pretty amazing,” she said. “Unless you get a bird that you literally see (eat poison), there’s not much you can do.”

However, Ms King said the bird’s condition was still precarious.

An RSPCA spokeswoman confirmed the RSPCA was investigating the incident but said it was too early to speculate on the cause. An Environment Department spokeswoman said the agency was also investigating the incident in collaboration with PIRSA.

“A disease investigation is underway,” she said. “Samples are being retained for potential toxin testing, which would take several weeks to complete.”

An Education Department spokeswoman said the department had been in contact with the school about the matter.

“This is a concerning situation,” she said. “We are reaching out to the school to offer any support they require.”

A Playford Council spokesman said the council did not use poison as part of its bird control measures.

“In the past two years, the City of Playford, has invested significant resources into non-lethal strategies to deal with marauding Little Corella flocks with limited success,” he said. “These non-lethal measures, last undertaken in 2018, included use of a predatory hawk and gas guns. At no time has council implemented any measures that include the use of poison.”

BirdLife calls for Urgent High-level Support for African Vultures

Vulture populations are in many cases poisoned when eating large animal carcasses (like the one above) that have been poisoned. © BirdLife Botswana

By BirdLife Botswana

BirdLife International is unequivocally condemning the recent poisoning of 537 highly endangered vultures by elephant poachers in the Central District of Botswana. This devastating incident has resulted in the country’s highest recorded death toll of vultures associated with a single poisoning incident and is one of the worst killings of vultures on the continent, rivaling a similar incident in the Caprivi area of Namibia in 2013, where between 400-600 vultures were killed.

Although the Botswana government appears to be stepping up its anti-poaching initiatives, catastrophic vulture mortality continues to occur because of poisoning by poachers. Poachers poison vultures to stop them circling above carcasses — thus signaling their illegal activity. Targeted and non-targeted poisoning of vultures is escalating at an alarming rate across the continent, with a high number of incidents focused on southern Africa.

These incidences are devastating,” says Motshereganyi Virat Kootsositse, BirdLife Botswana’s Executive Director. “Agrochemicals used illegally to poison vultures should be banned, and the use of safer alternatives encouraged. Although legislation is in place to manage agrochemicals in Botswana, enforcement is lacking, resulting in widespread misuse. The government should up its efforts to revise and enforce legislation and increase public awareness of the use of hazardous chemicals.”

Vultures are invaluable as a species due to the incredible public health services they provide. By eating rotting carcasses, they prevent the spread of diseases such as tuberculosis, rabies and anthrax. BirdLife Botswana works tirelessly to tackle vulture poisoning in the country. In collaboration with other BirdLife partners and organisations in the Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) region, they are working to address increasing elephant poaching; the main threat to the region’s declining vulture populations. Improving cross border collaboration, enforcement and building capacity for wildlife crime prosecution and improving the availability of information are crucial to these efforts.

However, illegal poisoning is something that community support systems, education and awareness alone may not be able to combat. The government needs to use legislative action to help save vultures and wildlife in Botswana, and across the KAZA region.

“If such catastrophic episodes continue to occur across Africa, we may lose the race to save these iconic and vitally important species,” says Beckie Garbett from the BirdLife International Africa Partnership Secretariat. “Vultures are currently not receiving the global conservation support and recognition that many other highly threatened species are, which puts them on a back foot in terms of conservation organisations having the capacity to halt and reverse their declines.”

BirdLife International calls upon the Botswana government and other key influential stakeholders to pay attention to the desperate plight of African vultures at relevant international policy forums. With the 18th CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP) meeting due to take place in August this year, international Governments of CITES member states have the opportunity to pass relevant policy decisions that will help to address the plight of vultures and other wildlife species.

Only through high-level driven actions will African vultures get the attention and protection that they deserve from sentinel poisoning. It is the duty of those with the power to make a change, to stand up and make themselves heard on behalf of all wildlife species impacted by illegal activities in Africa.