There is a serial killer at large in Munster. There have been ‘wanted posters’ and full page ads in the local press that offer a reward. The 19th century-style campaign for justice is seeking information that will stop the murders by conviction. It’s such a big reward (and such a horrible crime) that it made the news.
This is a citizen’s campaign because the known deaths are not within the jurisdiction of the local police.
That’s twenty three deaths by poisoning using a poison that itself is illegal to hold in Ireland or anywhere else in Europe.
Buzzards are ungrievable despite being protected by the laws of the nation. However the alleged presence of an illegal poison should be reason enough to investigate the affair.
Buzzards are raptors that feed from carrion. A gun club-raised pheasant would need to be dead to interest a buzzard. Presumably pheasants don’t know this. Perhaps the soaring presence of the buzzard must in some way interfere with the pheasant leaping into the air for human entertainment ahead of a fusillade of steel pellets. Yes, the pellets are steel since we’re an environmentally responsive nation that banned lead shot long ago.
Just like the nation banned toxic carbamate pesticides.
But none of this serial killing is within the jurisdiction of the Irish police force. What about the possession of the illegal toxins found in the remains of the birds? It’s a case for the National Parks and Wildlife Service who have a policing group specifically for such investigations.
The NPWS have a system of protocols and procedures to determine the most appropriate actions for dealing with allegations of criminal activity. Sometimes their byzantine procedures can mean that the illegal activity level has ceased and the poisons may have even disappeared by the time the NPWS react. Some say that many cases are being closed without resolution for a lack of evidence. Certainly, the conviction rates arising from the low rate of NPWS prosecutions also seems low. So now, the NPWS are lobbying to get more funding to plan to hire more administrators to at least scope a plan that, with appropriate stakeholder consultation, should lead to a review of the bureaucracy that would provide an understanding of policy impediments that in turn, could open a path to some future procedural reforms. Perhaps the NPWS is capable of amazing things but incapable of organising itself.
Mass killings in Munster remind me of the premeditated murder of a family (of birds) in Dalkey. The parents immigrated, possibly from Wales and set up home in the Dalkey area. Life was good in South County Dublin and twitchers came from all over to watch the activity with monoculars and binoculars from very afar. So the content were the birds that they set about raising a family in Dalkey Quarry. After the eggs hatched, the birds were tempted to make a convenient meal of a nearby pigeon in distress. Some think that a present of a live-tethered poisoned pigeon was a gift from local pigeon fanciers. That might be credible given that a racing pigeon, like New Kim, can fetch millions. I think we’d agree that a peregrine falcon is a threat to the flocks of pigeon fanciers. But what do we do for the even greater numbers of people for whom the flight of the falcon is an ephemeral joy? Or more precisely, what does the NPWS do for the wildlife and for the citizens who fund the NPWS to look after the nations wildlife?
What eats buzzard carrion? Where do the poisons go? The ingested poisons must go somewhere. And yes, indeed, where are the alleged poisons that have allegedly disappeared? Flushed into the water supply? Or stashed for future use once the hullabaloo dies down?
I was touched by the news of the golden eagle that recently escaped in Wicklow. His owner pleaded to all gun carrying trophy hunters and animal herders for his bird’s life saying that this king of birds was unable to feed itself. He said that eagle was probably looking for him as hard was he was searching for his 12 year old bird. Happily, Kalin was reunited with his owner after an eight day fast.
I’ve seen the magnificent stoop of the peregrine in Donegal, on the Hawk Cliff in Dalkey and most amazingly, from the top of Westminster City Hall in London. True, a pigeon was harmed in each of these dives. I’ve also seen thousands of battered and flattened pigeons as road kill, potential rewards for the buzzards that help sanitise our environment.
And spare a thought for hen-harriers … this is their sky dancing season.