Victorian farmers have responded to the recent poisoning of over 130 eagles

By AG Staff 14 June 2018
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The large scale poisoning of over 130 wedge-tailed eagles has horrified the public and caused grave concerns among ecologists.

VICTORIAN FARMERS have responded to the large-scale poisoning of over 130 wedge-tailed eagles on a property in Victoria, telling farmers that they should deal with the problem legally.

On Tuesday, Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning officially confirmed the discovery of 136 wedge-tailed eagles found hidden throughout a property in East Gippsland. However, they believe numbers may be higher than what they’ve seized.

Following the announcement of a criminal investigation into the matter, the Victorian Farmers Federation have urged landholders not to revert to illegal methods. Instead, suggesting farmers follow the proper legal avenues, such as requesting permits to shoot the eagles.

According to the Federation livestock president Leonard Vallance, more of these eagles have been populating Victoria because of droughts in NSW, distressing farmers.

“What farmers find is injured lambs, half-dead lambs, half-eaten lambs,” he said. “It’s not a pleasant death for the lamb, it’s fairly horrific.”

However, he said he’d never seen eagle persecution on this scale. “I’ve never heard of anyone killing that many eagles ever before, maybe two or three, that’s it.”

War on wedgies

Wedge-tailed eagle experts say that the continued war on these birds, which has been waged since the earl 1970s when it was legal to kill them, is based on myth.

“This generational myth is encouraged by a conflict between perception versus reality,” eagle expert Simon Cherriman said. “They think that what they’re seeing is an accurate perception of what these eagles are doing. The classic is, ‘ This birds eating my sheep, it must be threatening my livestock’.”

Steve Debus, another eagle expert said that because eagles are seen feeding on dead lambs, people jump to conclusions, when in reality these lambs most likely died overnight from a variety of potential causes like stillbirths, mismothering, starvation, predation or bad weather.

He added that, “Field studies have repeatedly shown that the true percentage of viable lambs killed by eagles is very small in relation to the number that die from other causes, and that eagle kills are economically insignificant for the industry as a whole…”