Sea eagles killed by poisoning
Schoolchildren on a kayaking trip found a white-tailed sea eagle dead from suspected poisoning - the third thought to have been killed by banned toxins in the last month, it has been revealed.
The male bird was found by youngsters on the River Laune near Beaufort, Kerry, on Sunday amid concerns local farmers have laced sheep carcasses with lethal substances.
It is the 19th protected bird of prey found dead from suspected poison in the last three years.
Dr Allan Mee, White-Tailed Eagle Project manager, branded those behind the poisonings reckless vandals.
"I feel utterly devastated by this. Losing yet another bird is tragic," the conservationist said.
"I'm gutted at the loss of this bird, the third in a few weeks in Beaufort. But I'm even sadder for the children who found the bird."
All three eagles were found dead within one kilometre of each other and it is believed they died after eating an animal carcass laced with the banned pesticide and poison carbofuran.
The Golden Eagle Trust, which runs the white tailed sea eagle project, claimed there is growing evidence of illegal use of poison by a tiny minority of sheep farmers.
This year has been the worst for poisonings since 2007 when efforts to reintroduce golden eagles in Donegal, white tailed sea eagles in Kerry and red kites in Wicklow began in earnest - 11 birds have been found dead.
A spokesman for Environment Minister John Gormley said: "The Minister is disgusted by this appalling practice and calls on anybody engaged in this practice to cease it immediately."