NSW authorities believe several wedge-tailed eagles found dead in southern NSW last year were deliberately poisoned.
Police discovered the eight dead eagles within 40 metres of each other at Conargo, near Deniliquin, last October, after they were alerted by a member of the public.
A toxicology report by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has since confirmed the eagles were poisoned with pesticides.
The birds of prey have been known to attack livestock, and in the past few years there have been multiple reports of hundreds of wedge-tailed eagles being poisoned in Victoria.
In one case, a farm worker in East Gippsland was jailed for poisoning 406 wedge-tailed eagles by injecting insecticide into lamb carcasses.
The EPA’s NSW director of regulatory operations, Gary Whytcross, said the eagles were a protected native species and the apparent deliberate poisoning of the birds at Conargo was being taken very seriously.
“Having a situation where pesticides are impacting and killing eagles — either purposefully or through misadventure — is certainly not an appropriate use of a pesticide.”
Strict penalties for killing eagles
Mr Whytcross said the fine for an individual found to be purposefully misusing pesticides was up to $60,000, and for a corporation it was up to $120,000.
“The other aspect is if we do find that someone has purposefully killed these animals, under the biodiversity legislation there could be penalties that could be lodged in regards to harming wildlife as well,” he said.
The EPA and the police do not have any leads at this stage and are urging anyone with information about how the eagles were poisoned to get in touch.
“If they’ve seen something or heard something, or think that they know something about what happened, [call us],” Mr Whytcross said.
Anyone with information can contact the EPA on 131 555 or Deniliquin police.