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Rare sea eagle found dead from suspected poisoning in Northern Ireland

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The sea eagle, dinner in tow, is a majestic site

The sea eagle, dinner in tow, is a majestic site

Getty Images/iStockphoto

White-tailed sea eagle flying in the sky

White-tailed sea eagle flying in the sky

Getty Images/iStockphoto

The sea eagle, dinner in tow, is a majestic site

A rare white-tailed eagle has been found dead in Co Fermanagh, suspected of having been poisoned.

The Golden Eagle Trust, which released the male eagle, Ingar, into the wild in 2011 as part of a reintroduction programme, said not much was left of the bird when it was recovered by a landowner in the Lisnaskea area earlier this month.

It said that in all likelihood, three-year-old Ingar would have nested on one of Lough Erne's many islands.

"Its GPS satellite transmitter had stopped transmitting in early December but we hoped it was still okay as the transmitter was intermittent due to low light levels," a spokesman said.

The remains were collected and removed by the PSNI.

It's thought that there were once at least 75 white-tailed eagles - also known as sea eagles - across Ireland in the early 19th century, but by 1900 all the birds were persecuted to extinction across the island, mainly through poisoning.

The species was reintroduced in Ireland between 2007 and 2011 when 100 young Norwegian eagles were released in Killarney National Park.

In 2013 a breeding pair in Mountshannon, Co Clare, made history when they reared the first chicks to fly from a nest in Ireland in more than 100 years.

The trust said Ingar was almost four years old and spent most of 2014 on Upper and Lower Lough Erne.

"Given a chance he would have nested on one of the many islands on Lough Erne," a spokesman said.

"Although we don't know the cause of death, illegal poisoning has been the greatest mortality factor in Ireland. We urge anyone with any knowledge of the circumstances leading to the death of this bird to contact the PSNI."

The PSNI said the remains of a white-tailed eagle were recovered in Fermanagh on Saturday, February 7, in the Newbridge Road area of Lisnaskea.

Constable Maurice Blair said: "Many people may not be aware that these birds are present in Fermanagh and that they are a protected species. We are working to establish the circumstances. If you can help, please call the 101 number, quoting reference 6467215.

Alternatively, information can be passed via the independent Crimestoppers number on 0800 555 111."

Sea eagles were once widespread, although largely coastal and western in their recent historical distribution in Ireland.

The prevalence of place names containing the Irish name for eagle 'Iolar' or Anglicised derivations suggests a long association between man and eagles, such as Sliabh an Iolar (near Slea Head), Beenanillar Head (mountain of the eagle) on Valentia Island, and Cloghananillar (stony place of the eagle) near Hog's Head.

Eagles are mentioned in poetry as early as the 8th century, and in illuminated manuscripts such as The Book Of Kells.

Factfile

It's thought that Ireland held at least 75 sea eagle nest sites in the early 19th century. The advent of gamekeepers on estates, and introduction of strychnine as a poison bait, led to drastic population decline. By 1900 the species was gone, the last documented nesting in 1898.

Belfast Telegraph