An entire Imperial Eagle family was poisoned


On the 17th of August, the Körös-Maros Nemzeti Park Directorate was notified about the death of a few raptor birds. The ranger identified an adult male and female Imperial Eagles, he also found their two fleglings in the vicinity, which means that an entire eagle family is perished. 

The adult male was wearing a ring, he was born and ringed in 150 km away in Heves County in 2016. Such incident can only be caused by poisoning, so the scene and the surrounding areas have been searched by both the Police and the Anti-Poison Dog Unit of BirdLife Hungary (MME)


The four members of the poisoned eagle family - male (above left), female (above right), male flegling (below left), female fledgling (below right). Photos: Pál Marik, Körös-Maros National Park Directorate) 

Several poisoned pigeon baits and a dead magpie was also found nearby. As the baits were placed directly by the eagle nest, it cannot be exluded that the perpetrators deliberatley targeted the eagle family. The corpses were sent to The National Food Chain Safety Office for further examination, the Hungarian Police has also started an investigation.   

The poisoned pigeon bait (Fotó: Pál Marik)

Several eagles have been poisoned in Hungary during the past 15 years, but there has been no case of poisoning an entire eagle family since 2006. 

But why are these birds poisoned? 

The irresponsible offenders are usually targeting foxes and corvids in order to protect small game or domestic animals, however, they don't consider five serious issues: 

  1. Poisoning is a prohibited hunting method, the hunting of foxes and corvids can only be carried out by official hunters using legal and targeted procedures. Having no permission or using illegal methods can be considered as poaching, and according to the Hungarian hunting laws, it shall be punished by a term of imprisonment of up to three years.
  2. Most of the extremely dangerous substances used for these poisoning cases have long been prohibited across Europe, so even their possession is considered as an abuse or misuse of the poison, and the perpetrator shall be punished for misdemeanor by inprisonment. 
  3. Poison cause unjustified torture and death of the animals, and the perpetrators can be punished by up to three years' imprisonment for the crime of animal torture.
  4. Poisons are non-selective, so in almost all cases protected or highly protected animals are also fall victims, so the perpetrators also commit damage to nature, which can be punished by imprisonment of up to one to five years.
  5. Last but not least, less than a gramm of these toxins can kill an adult human, so it can be lethal to those who come into contact with unattended toxins or with animals that has been poisoned. 

BirdLife International is also aware of the issues Imperial Eagles are facing, hence the species has also been included in a large-scale international fundraising campaign to highlight the problem of the illegal slaughter of 25,000,000 birds annually. Please follow the campaign and help our cause here:


Márton Horváth and Petra Vásony