The following article was headline news last week in the Tipperary Star, a local rag in the Irish Republic:
ATTACKING BUZZARDS TARGET TERRIERS
By Noel Dundon
A call to have the protection orders on buzzards lifted has been made following a number of incidents in which the birds of prey have taken terriers and other animals in deadly swoops through mid Tipperary.
Buzzards are causing major problems in the mid-Tipperary area at the present time with a number of terriers having been taken, leading to a call for protection orders to be lifted.
Two families have been left in distress after their dogs were preyed upon and killed by giant buzzards in the Templetuochy area where hares, rabbits, cats and other small animals have also been taken.
However, it has also been revealed that are birds of prey circling overhead Deputy Michael Lowry in Glenreigh, Holycross, while Moyaliffe, Drombane, Inch, Clonmore and Castleiney are also areas where buzzards have been spotted on the attack.
There is one report of a Yorkshire terrier having been attacked, but survived and was patched up by a veterinary surgeon, only to be attacked again and killed a short time later – all by the same buzzard which can have a wingspan of up to three feet with very powerful and strong claws used to take prey.
Forested areas which afford cover are the best hunting ground for buzzards and dog and cat owners are being advised to be on the watch out for their pets which could be taken at the blink of an eye.
There are also concerns that with the increase in buzzards, the spring lambing season after Christmas could be an ideal hunting ground for them – but a very costly one for sheep owners.
The online version of the article was illustrated with this photograph, entitled ‘A buzzard on the rampage’.
Is this ‘journalist’ having a laugh? Since when did ‘giant buzzards’ (or even normal-sized buzzards) start killing dogs, and since when did the sight of soaring buzzards above a politician’s head become a cause for alarm?
This type of sensationalist, ignorant, scare-mongering would be funny if it didn’t have consequences. Unfortunately, this baseless demonisation of birds of prey does have consequences, and serious ones at that. As we see all too often, there are still people clinging on to 19th Century attitudes who think that raptors are ‘vermin’ and should be destroyed. Articles like this one above will only fuel their prejudice and lead to the illegal persecution of these birds.
Tipperary is no stranger to raptor persecution – in the last few years the following crimes have been recorded:
July 2015: shot buzzard
May 2014: poisoned peregrine
January 2014: shot white-tailed eagle
July 2013: shot peregrine
June 2013: shot peregrine
June 2013: shot peregrine
Raptor persecution is a serious issue in Ireland, and the latest official report shows the trend is pointing upwards with 35 confirmed persecution incidents in 2015 – the highest number since recording began in 2011 (see here).
We’d encourage strong (but polite) words of complaint to the Tipperary Star:
Email journalist Noel Dundon: firstname.lastname@example.org
Email editor Anne O’Grady: email@example.com
UPDATE 6/12/2016: BirdWatch Ireland has issued a strong statement in response to the Tipperary Star (see here).