eag
04 Oct
  • By Aizhana Danabekova

Farm worker who poisoned 406 eagles jailed and fined

In New Zealand, a man has been jailed for 14 days and fined $2,500 for poisoning 406 eagles. Murray James Silvester, a 59-years-old farm worker, admitted that he killed the birds from October 2016 to April 2018. Moreover, the eagle bodies were found hidden in the bush and scrub on three separate farms spanning 2,000 hectares. Other protected species including a kookaburra, ravens and a raptor were also found dead. The man gave investigators his diaries detailing the methods that he used and a hand-drawn map showing where the birds were hidden and where the chemicals were stored. 

According to prosecutors, three different chemicals were used to kill the eagles, but most of the eagle deaths were caused by the chemical Lannate. “John Auer showed him how to do it by injecting the substances into the necks of lambs,”  told Chrisanthi Paganis, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning prosecutor. Murray experimented with other chemicals, including a blue phosphorous which made the eagles severely sick but did not kill them straight away. It should be noted that the court heard Silvester admitted to killing 366 eagles during 2017 and another 40 in early 2018 at the properties at McKillops Road, Tubbut.

As Silvester explained it was his employer instruction to increase lamb survival rates, therefore, he was under pressure. The court was informed that the maximum fine for killing so many eagles was more than $ 350,000 or a six-month prison. Due to the fact that the farmer carried out the task of his boss and pleaded guilty, he was sentenced to 14 days.

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Aizhana Danabekova holds a BA in International Relations and is currently studying for an MSocSc in Cultural Sociology at University College Dublin. She started her career in journalism in Almaty, Kazakhstan at Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.  She wrote articles about different cultures and led the title “Let’s learn Kazakh”.