Police in Northern Ireland investigating the deaths of two white-tailed eagles last month in Ballymena, Co. Antrim have confirmed the birds died of poisoning.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) confirmed today (Friday, July 7) that following a post-mortem examination, both birds tested positive for the insecticide bendiocarb.

The PSNI is working with partners and members of the public to investigate the case.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has offered a reward of £5,000 for information leading to the prosecution of those involved in the poisoning.

Rural and wildlife crime superintendent Johnston McDowell said: “The test results suggest that an individual not only has access to the insecticide bendiocarb but has placed this into the outside environment illegally, so that wild birds have been able to consume it.”

Apart from the RSPB, police are working alongside several other groups including: Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAWNI), Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), the NI Raptor Study Group, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI), and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

The PSNI has also received additional support from the National Wildlife Crime Unit.

In Ireland, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said he is “deeply saddened” to hear about the eagles.

“I have closely followed the reintroduction programme for a number of years and to be involved in the release of the seven young eagles in 2022 was an experience that I will never forget.

“These are an iconic species, and the work of the NPWS (National Parks and Wildlife Service) in reintroducing them is something I, and the government, am proud to support. There have been great successes in the programme over recent years, so to learn of a poisoning like this is very disappointing.”

The Minister of State for heritage and electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, said: “Whatever misunderstanding that is out there needs to be challenged. Toxic substances such as carbofurans are banned and need to be handed over for safe disposal.

“The NPWS will work with colleagues in Northern Ireland, An Garda Síochána and the PSNI to fully investigate this incident and hopefully secure a successful prosecution,” Minister Noonan added.