Greater Spotted Eagle shot down over Skadar Lake

Bird hunting in the Balkans claimed a high-profile victim at the end of last week. A half-dead greater spotted eagle was found by a hunter in the Skadar Lake National Park near the Montenegrin town of Podgorica, where it had been shot down.  He handed the bird over to the director of the national park, who then alerted the police as the greater spotted eagle had a large transmitter on its back. It was soon established that the eagle had been fitted with the GPS transmitter by researchers in Poland to enable them to investigate its migration behaviour in greater detail.

The eagle had sustained serious wounds and died of these shortly after being handed over to the police. An x-ray proved conclusively that the bird’s body was riddled with pellets, leading Mihailo Jovicevic, an ornithologist with EuroNatur’s partner organisation CZIP, to file a complaint against an unknown person. The greater spotted eagle is, after all, one of the rarest breeds of bird in Europe and is threatened with extinction. Hunting it is strictly forbidden; the EU Birds Directive guarantees the dark brown birds of prey a high level of protection within the European Union and hunting them is also banned in Montenegro.  Furthermore the greater spotted eagle that was shot down was the valuable subject of a research study.

“This latest spotted eagle to be poached is only the tip of the iceberg, but it shows how ruthlessly the poachers go about their business. Every year well over two million migratory birds are killed illegally along the eastern coast of the Adriatic, and these crimes go unprosecuted without the public being aware of them – and a number of endangered species are affected,” says Gabriel Schwaderer, head of EuroNatur. “In this respect, the present case and the attention it has drawn from the public represent a big step forwards towards improvements in the prosecution of illegal hunting and poaching along the eastern Adriatic.”


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