Ireland's sea eagle

Someone is trying to poison rare sea eagles who are making their homes in Ireland after a gap of over 100 years.

There have been nine unlawful poisonings of the eagles since they returned to their  habitat.

A 5-month-old male sea eagle was saved from almost certain death after being discovered by a local near Skreen in County Sligo.

The sea eagle is currently being cared for in the Golden Eagle Trust at Glenveagh National Park in County Donegal.

It is believed that the eagle will be returned to the wild next weekend after blood tests establish the suspected nature of the poisoning.

The director of the Irish Raptor Research Centre, Lothar Muschketat, said that, "he was a local man who found the bird standing soaked on a roadside. He could pick up the bird like a wet cloth. It was not able to fly away. The bird was in a very apathetic stage and didn't defend itself. When that bird arrived it was suffering from hypothermia. It was soaked and its plumage was covered by a kind of grease. It was dehydrated."

It is suspected that superstitious farmers may have poisoned the bird. There have been nine unlawful killings of the eagle similar since they were reintroduced to the Kerry habitat two years ago.

The eagle was once native to Ireland and the last recorded sighting of the animal before it was reintroduced was on the coasts of Kerry and Mayo in 1898. The eagle was traditionally hunted by farmers who feared that they were damaging crops and livestock.

"Most farmers are open minded and are willing to learn,” Muschketat said. “The problem is some people still believe in old wives tales handed down over generations that eagles carry away children, kill lambs and all these stupid stories. They are scavengers. They feed on dead animals.”

It is illegal to poison or shoot the eagles and there is currently an investigation underway to determine who may have attempted to kill the eagle. The PSNI have also launched an investigation after a white tailed sea eagle was found shot dead in Lough Neagh.

There have been 55 white tailed sea eagles reintroduced in County Kerry since the project began in 2007. It is hoped that double that number will be released into the wild.

The sea eagles were picked from a reservation in Norway and reintroduced by environmentalist who worked in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture and Kerry County Council.