Eagle death numbers rise after more property searches

By John Lewis

A Shepparton East property has been searched during an investigation into the alleged poisoning of native birds, including wedge-tailed eagles in the Violet Town area.

A government department officer confirmed yesterday that insecticide had been found in the carcasses of six wedge-tailed eagles which were among more than 150 dead native birds found at a property near Violet Town in August.

Meanwhile, searches at Violet Town last week found an additional 47 dead native birds, including 25 wedge-tailed eagles, bringing the total number to almost 200 dead native birds found so far.

Acting compliance program manager with the Office of the Conservation Regulator Andrew Dean said as part of the ongoing investigation into the bird deaths, two search warrants were executed at a residential property in Shepparton East and a rural property at Goomalibee in late September.

Mr Dean said no dead birds were found at either properties but "a number of items were removed".

He said it was unclear whether the birds were deliberately poisoned.

“However, given the large number of birds found nearby, it’s a possibility,” Mr Dean said.

Large numbers of dead native birds were discovered after the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning executed a search warrant at the property in August.

The three-day search resulted in the discovery of dead wedge-tailed eagles, kites, hawks, falcons and other native bird species.

The search occurred a month after several wedge-tailed eagles were found dead on Earlston properties, leading to widespread community concern.

Mr Dean said evidence collected so far would be forensically analysed, including carcasses and chemicals seized.

He said the analysis might take some time.

“We understand the community is justifiably outraged by this incident. Wildlife crimes are extremely complex, and our investigations are continuing,” Mr Dean said.

He said all native birds were protected under the Wildlife Act 1975 and deliberately killing them carried a maximum penalty ranging from $8261 to $39652 and/or six to 24 months’ imprisonment.

Mr Dean called on community members to report information to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.