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Rare white-tailed eagle found dead in Co Roscommon

The National Parks and National Parks Service (NPWS) has launched an investigation following the recent discovery of a dead white-tailed eagle near Cranberry Lough in south Roscommon and is appealing to the public for any information that might help.

The two-year-old female eagle was part of the NPWS White-tailed Eagle Reintroduction Programme as part of ongoing efforts to restore this once extinct bird of prey to the Irish countryside.

The bird, which was shot, had been released into the wild on the shores of Lough Derg in 2022.

Investigating officers are awaiting further results of forensic analysis that may provide additional information.

The NPWS said it deplores the deliberate killing of rare and endangered species and takes bird of prey persecutions extremely seriously.

White-tailed eagles are very big birds. They have a wingspan of about two metres and are about hip-height when standing upright.

The white-tailed eagle was shot and died sometime between Monday evening and Tuesday morning

They are a top predator but feed mostly on fish.

They also eat other aquatic birds including ducks, geese and cormorants, as well as small mammals like rats and mice when needed.

In addition, they are attracted by carrion and the carcasses of already dead animals.

They are not considered to be a threat to farm animals and there have been no reports of eagles causing problems for farmers since the reintroduction programme began in 2007.

Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan said he is devastated by news of the death of one of our beloved white-tailed eagles.

“To think that one would be shot is unconscionable. I am appealing to anyone who has information about this appalling wildlife crime to please report it to the NPWS or to the gardaí,” he said.

As part of the reintroduction programme, white-tailed eagle chicks are fitted with satellite tags to monitor their movement.

Information from the satellite tag for the dead eagle indicates that she died sometime between Monday evening and Tuesday morning of the 11 and 12 March.

Baby white-tailed eagles born on the shores of Lough Derg in Ireland

Satellite information shows that she was present in the area over the past couple of weeks, having travelled around the west and north of the country since her release.

The eagle left Lough Derg just over a year ago, moving southwest to the Shannon Estuary and back north through the Burren and on to Lough Allen before reaching Donegal in mid-April 2023.

She also spent time on the Leitrim-Cavan border.

In 2024, she spent most of her time along the borders between Galway, Offaly and Roscommon, following the Shannon River and Suck River and visiting the associated callows.

Director General of the National Parks and Wildlife Service Niall Ó Donnchú described the killing of the bird as a heinous act of destruction and a wanton act of violence against this beautiful and endangered bird.

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