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Australia Endangered wedge-tailed eagle injured in illegal trap may have to be euthanised

14:51  28 november  2019
14:51  28 november  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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The wedge - tailed eagle or bunjil (Aquila audax) is the largest bird of prey in Australia, and is also found in southern New Guinea, part of Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia. It has long, fairly broad wings, fully feathered legs, and an unmistakable wedge-shaped tail.

The Tasmanian wedge - tailed eagle (Aquila audax fleayi) is an endangered bird of Tasmania. It is a subspecies of the more common wedge - tailed eagle . Aquila is a genus of large eagles that have long, rounded wings with deeply emarginated tips.

a man preparing food inside of it: Simon Plowright (l) holds the eagle for vet Jeff Parsons at St Helens. (ABC News: Jessica Moran)© Provided by ABC News Simon Plowright (l) holds the eagle for vet Jeff Parsons at St Helens. (ABC News: Jessica Moran)

A wedge-tailed eagle which lost a claw when it was caught in an illegal trap in Tasmania may have to be put down.

The bird was seen flying around with the rabbit trap hanging from its leg about 10 days ago.

It was found today in a paddock off the Tasman Highway at Four Mile Creek on Tasmania's east coast.

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The wedge - tailed eagle is the largest bird of prey in Australia. They are on the critically endangered list, being threatened by the loss of habitat, nest Wedge - tailed eagles are certainly predators of adult wallabies, particularly the Rock wallabies. They are certainly known to kill joeys of all species.

Wedge - tailed Eagles may hunt singly, in pairs or in larger groups. Personally I wouldn't want to get within a kilometre of a pissed off Wedgie but that's just me. Also they are of Least Concern on the endangered scale, though their Tasmanian cousins are Highly endangered and a bit of a concern

Wildlife experts said it amounted to a "shocking case of animal cruelty".

It is now recovering at a veterinary clinic at St Helens.

East Coast Vet Clinic's Jeff Parson said the eagle may have to be euthanased.

"It looks to have lost one of its four claws which means it won't be able to perch properly or catch food and hold food, so it won't ever get back to the wild," he said.

"It's a sad situation, there is no need for it".

Dr Parson said he was waiting on advice from Parks and Wildlife about what to do next.

Wildlife filmmaker Simon Plowright helped rescue the eagle and said the bird appeared run down.

"The sad thing about this is somebody has gone to a lot of trouble to trap this bird and why? Goodness only knows," he said.

"It could be because they've got a few chooks or something, it's so pointless."

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Wedge - tailed eagles vary in their tolerance levels, and some may eventually nest in areas near certain levels of regular disturbance after some months or years spent assessing an area. However, a small additional disturbance may then be 'the straw that breaks the camel's back', i.e. enough to disrupt

** Eagle was fine - she was massive and used talon's to 'punch' the drone out of the sky. Hung around overhead so i got a really good look. This is the last thing a small bird sees when a Wedge - Tailed Eagle decides that you are dinner Do not fly drones near birds of prey, they clearly attack seeing

Eric Woehler, from BirdLife Tasmania, said while it was not a hugely prevalent issue, the incident is concerning.

"I was horrified when I saw the pictures of the injuries of the bird's foot," he said.

"These are birds that can live, 30 to 40 years, and this bird's life in the wild has been cut short."

Wedge-tailed eagles are listed as critically endangered in Tasmania with an estimated 350 breeding pairs left in the state.

Under the Animal Welfare Act, it is illegal to set leg-hold or snare traps in Tasmania without an exemption.

Those responsible could face up to five years in prison and be fined $33,600.

Additional penalties under the Threatened Species Protection Act may also apply, with fines of about $100,000 and 12 months in prison.

Mr Woehler believes the penalties are not harsh enough and wants more severe punishment.

"The fact this is still happening when the Government is in the process of increasing penalties for injuries and disturbance to wildlife just shows the message isn't getting through," he said.

In a statement, a spokesperson from the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment said the incident was under investigation.

Anyone with more information is being urged to contact the department or Crimestoppers.

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