THE POPULATION of rare eagles in Slovakia suffered a double blow this spring: in the Horný Les (Upper Forest) national nature reserve in the Záhorie region in western Slovakia, a white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) was found dead in early April. The female had been poisoned. Only two weeks earlier another rare eagle, this time an Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca), was found dead, also poisoned.
“We asked the police and prosecution service to investigate these cases consistently,” Ján Chavko of the Ochrana dravcov na Slovensku / Raptor Protection of Slovakia environmental organisation told the SITA newswire. Chavko put the societal value of the protected raptor at €3,000. Chavko insists that due to the ever-more frequent cases of poisoning, whole population of some rare species could become extinct in Slovakia.
“Young white-tailed eagles usually hatch at this time of year and it is very probable that in the nest of the poisoned female, eggs or young birds were left,” he explained. Chavko added that the locality where the bird was found is very attractive for birds of prey. “There are several more protected species here – all carrion-eaters which are the most at-risk group from the point of view of poisoning,” he said, adding that the raptors are probably killed by hunters, who lay toxic baits. He explained that most poisoning cases are reported from lowlands, where small game is typically hunted and the poisoned baits are laid by hunters who believe that they can thus kill raptors, beasts of prey and other animals considered vermin by them. “Hunters should re-consider the true reason for the decline in populations of some species of small game – more intense agriculture, chemical pollution of the environment and loss of habitat for reproduction or concealment,” Chavko concluded for SITA. Cases of so-called “bird criminality” are addressed by the project Protection and Research of Birds Without Borders, which is a part of cross-border cooperation between Slovakia and Hungary for 2007 – 2013.
In happier new, a female white-tailed eagle was released into the wild recently after three year’s quarantine in the Latorica Protected Area in eastern Slovakia. Employees of the State Natural Protection – Administration of the Protected Area (CHKO) Latorica and the District Environmental Office in Trebišov saved the animal, which is very rare and the biggest raptor living in Slovakia.
“She was found in poor shape by fishermen, and was not able to hunt or survive,” Ľubomír Engler of the shelter in Sečovce told the TASR newswire. “She was starved out and she had no feathers,” he said, adding that such raptors need an enormously long time to replace lost plumage. This is why it took the female eagle so long to recuperate and be able to survive in the wild.
20. May 2013 at 0:00 | Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská