Five threatened white-bellied sea eagles die after being poisoned in eastern Victoria

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

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This white-bellied sea eagle was one of five threatened birds that DELWP believes died from poison after feeding on illegally baited corellas near Bairnsdale. (Supplied: DELWP Gippsland)

A farmer in Bairnsdale could face charges over the fatal poisoning of five white-bellied sea eagles found dead near Bairnsdale last month.

The threatened birds were poisoned after eating corellas that had been illegally baited.

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning Program Manager, Craig Oldis says necropsy and toxicology tests on two of the sea eagles found traces of the chemical, dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE), traditionally used in the agricultural and livestock industry.

"We believe the eagles have fed on the corella carcasses and succumbed to the poison also."

DELWP has formally interviewed a Bairnsdale man after speaking with a number of people who live along the Mitchell River near Bairnsdale.

The white-bellied sea eagle is one of Australia's largest and most spectacular raptors and is common to East Gippsland.

They measure about one metre long and have a similar wing span and flight pattern to the wedge-tailed eagle.

Using poison to destroy protected wildlife attracts fines of up to $15,600 and/or six months imprisonment.

"If a person is convicted in court they may well find themselves going to jail for such a callous and hideous act of cruelty," Mr Oldis said.