Villagers shocked to find their nurtured sea eagle nest was likely poisoned

Sea eagle, photo: Yathin S Krishnappa, CC BY-SA 3.0

Residents of an Eastern Bohemian village were recently shocked to find their cherished nest of sea eagles had been wiped out by what seems to have been poison. Ornithologists have been summoned to the vicinity and the local police have launched an investigation.

Sea eagle,  photo: Yathin S Krishnappa,  CC BY-SA 3.0
Deep in the heart of the Czech Republic, in Bohemia’s Vysočina district a pair of white-tailed sea eagles made their nest.

The settling of these rare birds in their vicinity excited the local villagers of Jamné u Jihlavy, who discovered the nest while tackling the spread of a bark beetle infestation in their wood, says local mayor Luboš Varhaník.

“We found out they had a nest in our wood, because we were removing bark beetle infested trees. As soon as we found out about it, we let those trees be. We did not want to disturb the eagle. We wanted it to have peace and quiet so that so that it could care for the young.”

They were all the more shocked when just a few days ago, the local foresters found an adult eagle lying dead in the nearby wood. Both of the young eaglets were also dead.

One of the local ornithologists, Aleš Toman, was called to the spot to investigate their sudden death. His conclusion was that they had been poisoned.

“The adult bird was found just 100 meters from the nest. He flew straight down after he consumed the remains of the food that the young tend to leave on the edge of the nest. There are typical signs of poisoning on the bird – clenched claws from cramp and wide-open pupils.”

An autopsy of the birds is currently underway and the local police have started an investigation into the case. But their spokeswoman Jana Kroutilová says the chances of catching the culprit are small.

“Generally, these investigations are complicated. Because of the remoteness of the area, it is unlikely we will find any witnesses.”

What makes the case all the more sinister, is that similar eagle poisonings have happened in the past in the Czech Republic.

Young sea eagle,  photo: Rainer Altenkamp,  Berlin,  CC BY-SA 3.0
In 2016 another pair of sea eagles was found in the region of West Bohemia near the border with Germany. Both died within a week of each other with signs of poisoning.

Mr. Toman says that usually the death takes place through consuming meat ingested with poison, which has been left somewhere in the open.

It is precisely for this reason that ornithologist and dog handler Klára Hlubocká was asked to come to Jamné and search for other possible poisoned bait.

“My job is to come to a location where someone reports finding a dead predator, or something that they find out of the ordinary and then start searching around with my dogs.”

With the ongoing investigation she was unwilling to share details on what she had found.

Results of the autopsy will be available in two weeks.