Four wedge-tailed eagles have been shot dead in Victoria

Wedge-tailed eagles are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975 meaning offenders could be charged up to $8, 000.
By Angela Heathcote June 22, 2017 Reading Time: 2 Minutes

THE REMAINS OF FOUR wedge-tailed eagles have been found in the Black Range State Forest, Victoria, having been killed by gunshot.

The recent discovery by Forest Fire Management Victoria brings the overall number of wedge-tailed eagle deaths by gunshot or poison to 20, making authorities concerned for the wellbeing of Australia’s largest bird of prey.

Darren Skelton from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning told the ABC that the eagles were often targeted by farmers because they were seen as a threat to newborn lambs.

“What we know is that wedge-tailed eagles are far more likely to get a feed off road kill or other species than they are off lambs,” Darren told the ABC.

Wedge-tailed eagles are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975, which penalises offenders that deliberately hunt and kill the bird with a fine of up to $8, 000.

Wedge-tailed eagle expert and environmental biologist, Simon Cherriman agrees with Darren that it is likely the attack came from concerned land owners. 

“Unfortunately the archaic attitude of attempting to control our environment through wanton destruction of biodiversity is still around, despite the vast improvement in knowledge about the importance of keeping apex predators in our landscape,” said Simon.

Simon said that there is no evidence to suggest that the wedge-tailed eagle causes any economic impact to pastoralists.

“The benefits of having them around to control other pest species, such as rabbits, goats and pigs, and to clean up disease-harbouring carrion, far outweigh the costs of losing the occasional lamb”

To avoid these problems in the future, Simon explained that managing farms for biodiversity is key.

“Retaining large patches of native vegetation that can support a diverse range of animals that offer alternative prey to livestock, such as kangaroos, possums and birds, is one way of solving these problems. We simply can’t clear all of the land, kill the kangaroos and rabbits, and expect these majestic eagles to eat dust.”