Update, Friday 7 December, 8am
A BENDIGO vet clinic is treating less shot eagles as farmers come to understand the birds, but incidents like it still happen.
Yesterday, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning called for public information after a bird was found shot in the state’s north.
The wedge-tail eagle was brought to Bendigo for specialist care with the Wildlife Rescue Emergency Service and was treated at Passionate Vetcare.
The bird died last Thursday.
In the past, farmers were more likely to shoot wedge-tails out of concerns the birds were killing their lambs, Passionate Vetcare clinic lead Kellie Anset said.
“I think that over the years farmers have come to have a lot more respect for wedge-tail eagles,” she said.
Farmers were still more likely to shoot eagles than others, but Dr Anset noted that any random shooter might decide the eagles were a “nice, large target”.
In recent times vets were less likely to see shot eagles.
“I’ve treated occasional ones over the years, but the majority of what we treat is eagles that have flown into power lines,” Dr Anset said.
“Or they have been on the side of the road eating a rabbit, or something, and been hit by a car.”
The eagle treated at the clinic last week had a large wound on one side, with a bigger one on the other.
“That is usually indicative of a bullet wound,” Dr Anset said.
“She (the vet who treated the bird) was not able to stitch anything together as it was all broken apart.”
Birds could be fragile animals. While wedge-tail eagles were often more resilient, Dr Anset said it was hard to know how long this one had not been eating or flying for before it passed away.
“Even the stress of the anesthetic can be enough to compromise them,” she said.
The clinic treated birds of all sorts on a daily basis, with members of the public regularly bringing in wild ones.
They were often younger animals like magpies which people have found on the sides of roads.
Dr Anset warned people who saw younger birds on the ground this time of year not to rush in to help.
“There’s a lot of fledglings that are trying to fly out of their nests and they end up on the ground,” she said.
“The majority of the time, if you just leave them there they should be fine because the parents will still be around and they will come and attack anything that is trying to take them.
“That’s probably where our work, and that of wildlife carers, is right now. People are trying to be a good Samaritan and bring them in, but they do then need to go into care.”
THE SEARCH for the person who shot a wedge-tail eagle at a Victorian wildlife reserve is underway.
The bird was brought to Bendigo last week for specialist care after a landholder in Torrumbarry in Victoria’s north found it and called a wildlife shelter.
However, the eagle died Thursday night, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning forest and wildlife officer Phuong Tran said.
All native wildlife in Victoria, including all birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, is protected by the Wildlife Act 1975. It is illegal to disturb or destroy protected wildlife without a licence, permit or authority.
Ms Tran is calling for the public’s help to find the person or people responsible for the killing.
“The vet found a wound consistent with being shot by a high-powered rifle,” she said.
“It’s quite sad that people set out to harm and kill these native birds.”
The bird was a juvenile and Ms Tran said it was possibly part of a pair known by people in the community.
The wedge-tailed eagle is Australia’s largest bird of prey and one of the biggest eagles in the world, with a wingspan of more than two metres.
They are an important part of the ecosystem as they eat road kill, other carcasses and live prey such as rabbits and hares.
“Anyone with information is urged to call us on 136 186 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000,” Ms Tran said.
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