An Israeli farmer was detained for questioning on Tuesday after an estimated 20 animal carcasses were found in the Upper Galilee area Sunday. The farmer was brought to authorities on suspicion of using pesticides to poison and kill the animals, which included an endangered white-tailed eagle.
As reported by the Times of Israel, rangers from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority found the carcasses of hedgehogs, foxes and jackals along with the lifeless body of the white-tailed eagle.
The rangers reportedly searched the area for further carcasses and for potential evidence of what caused their deaths. Upon further investigation, officials believed the animals were deliberately poisoned with an illegal pesticide. Local reports did not name the pesticide in question.
“Poisoning is one of the most difficult issues and has a dramatic impact in the country – and we have a national responsibility to prevent it,” said Nature and Parks Authority director Shaul Goldstein in a statement to the Jerusalem Post. “Until a heavy sentence is imposed, no solution will be found to the problem.”
According to The Society for the Protection of Nature Israel (SPNI) via the Times of Israel, 40-70 percent of eagles in Israel were killed by poison between 2001 and 2015. When it comes to the white-tailed eagle specifically, poison has played a major factor in the bird’s overall population decline.
Currently, white-tailed eagles have an IUCN Red List categorization as “least concern,” meaning that the species does not face the risk of widespread extinction on a global scale. However, National Geographic reports that the species faced near-extinction in the 1980s. The publication says that the population bounced back after many countries banned the pesticide DDT and PCBs.
But the bird is still considered endangered or extinct in certain countries, including Israel. The SPNI website categorizes the species as “regionally extinct,” claiming that the few that are left are a result of a breeding program.
In response to the incident, the Times of Israel alleges that SPNI wrote to Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg Tuesday asking her to move forward with an amendment to wildlife protection law that would increase the punishment for those who poison animals.
A draft of the amendment was previously released to the public for consultation; however, it was never formally passed, says the publication. The amendment would make it illegal to use any poison or pesticides in areas where there is a risk to “harmless animals.” Where a pesticide is used, the amendment would make it so that — in addition to the worker who sprayed the pesticide — the landowner is held responsible.
This article by Sara Santora was first published by Newsweek on 27 July 2021. Lead Image: A farmer in Israel was detained after an endangered white-tailed eagle and other wildlife were found dead. Officials believe the animals were deliberately poisoned with an illegal pesticide. neil_burton/iStock.
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