Birdwatch Ireland are horrified that live pigeons coated in banned poison with their wings clipped were tied to the ground as bait for buzzards who ate them and then died.

The two dead buzzards were found beside three dead pigeons in Roscrea, County Tipperary. BirdWatch Ireland Development Officer Niall Hatch said the banned insecticide Carbofuran was used to kill the buzzards.

He said the toxin is so powerful that a quarter of a teaspoonful is enough "to kill a fully grown adult.”

“There is a really serious public safety issue here as well,” he told The Irish Times.  “Whoever is responsible for planting the poison took a real risk themselves.”

Had the pigeons been found by children who attempted to rescue them, “you could be reporting on an even worse story today,” he added.

No reason for the killing has been discovered. Buzzards have been re-introduced gradually into Ireland over the  past few decades. They kill small animals but are not considered a nuisance by most farmers.

BirdWatch Ireland say this was a particularly abhorrent incident.

They had been monitoring the buzzard’s nest and the two birds who died were young chicks.

“We had been watching them all summer and it was sickening to see them killed like that for no reason,” one volunteer told The Irish Times.

The farmer on whose land the birds were found said : “They have not caused me or any of the other farmers in the area any problems whatsoever. I gave nobody permission to come on my land and lay down poison, and whoever did so was trespassing.”