The death of birds of prey as a result of poaching – a sad example of ospreys in Ukraine

March 29th, 2012 Posted in Misc, Photos

Over 40 years has already passed (since 1969) after the total ban for shooting birds of prey in Ukraine. However, in minds of many hunters, birds with the beaks curved down still remains malicious enemies (a desirable trophy, a good target, etc.). As a result, every year a large number of birds of prey are illegally and thoughtlessly exterminated by hunters, and significantly reduce their numbers. Do you think it is an exaggeration? Then read about cases of four Ospreys in Ukraine, happened only during the autumn of 2011.

Episode 1. In the first decade of October in Ripki district (Chernyhiv region) local people picked up a wounded Osprey. The bird couldn’t fly and was given to Mensky Zoo (some information can be read here).

Episode 2. On 23 September a Lviv ornithologist A.A.Bokotey (personal communication) during bird counts at fishponds near the village Babin Serednii (Kalush district of Ivano-Frankivsk region) found remains of the Osprey, shot by hunters 3-4 weeks earlier. The bird had a ring, showing that it was marked in Finland.

Episode 3. In the first decade of October near the village Makiivka (Donetsk region) there was shot an Osprey with a Finnish ring. The bird could not fly and was given to the game-keeper who reported to the Ringing Centre. The game-keeper showed the bird to a veterinarian, and it turned out that the shot broke its radial bone. For some time the Osprey lived at the game-keeper’s house who provided it with all the necessary help, and soon he gave the bird to Kharkiv Zoo.

Episode 4. In early October we were informed about a find of a dead “eagle” with a “radar” on its back at Irdynski Bogs (Cherkasy region). According to eyewitnesses, the bird was found dead 30 September. When I received this unknown object my worst expectations were proved – hunters shot a bird of prey with a satellite transmitter. The inscription on it showed that the transmitter belongs to Finnish Museum of Natural History and Helsinki University. It was easy to recognize an Osprey, and also to find a relevant website, moreover this year I have written a review on migration of these birds across Ukraine. It turned out, that in 2011 Finnish scientists monitored two Ospreys with transmitters. It is not a hyperbole to suppose that their fortune was followed by all bird lovers in Europe since it is very interesting to sit at the computer and follow movements of the marked raptor practically online. One of the Ospreys was marked already in 2009, and scientists managed to know much information about the lifeway of this beautiful bird. In autumn 2011 it flew to the south crossing the Baltic States and Poland (more about the bird’s movements is here). The second Osprey was an adult male, named Eikka, which was captured and marked in the summer of 2011. On the 16th of September he started his travel to wintering grounds. How sad it was to read the message at the website “23 September … Eikka had flown over Kiev and proceeded over 200 kilometres to the south-southeast. 24 September – We did not receive a single fix on Eikka. 26 September – 5 October So far, we have not received any fixes on Eikka during this time” (see here for details). How could they get a signal if I hold in my hands the satellite transmitter damaged with shot, and the killed Osprey lay somewhere at Irdynski Bogs… We can only imagine the disappointment of Finnish ornithologists and bird lovers when they knew what had happened with their Osprey.

Such ingloriously were short 4 beautiful birds, grown outside the borders of Ukraine and carelessly flown into its territory during migration. And we told only about the cases which we know for one season. More than 40 years have already passed after the total ban for shooting birds of prey in Ukraine. How many years do we need more to stop killing rare birds?

Reference: The Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) according to the Red Data Book of Ukraine (Gavris, Khimin, 2009) is a vanishing species. The current numbers in Ukraine do not exceed 1-2 pairs. More birds are observed during seasonal migrations. Chiefly feeds on fish. Birds, breeding in Europe, winter predominantly in Africa.

The Osprey is one of the most favourite birds in Finland, “a country of lakes”. For these raptors they build special nest boxes, birds and all nests are under strict protection. Every year they control breeding success in all nests and ring birds to investigate their fidelity to breeding areas, life duration, and also to study their migrations and wintering.

Afterword. Maybe I exaggerate the scale of death of birds of prey from hunters? Unfortunately, no. According to Finnish ornithologists (Saurola, 2005), general numbers of Osprey, which were ringed in Finland and illegally shot in Ukraine are equal to several dozens. According to data of Ukrainian ornithologists (Shidlovsky, Lisachuk, 2007), the shooting presently remains to be the main reason of death of birds of prey in Ukraine – it comprises 57% cases of death.

The full text of this paper is available below
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Shydlovskyi I., Lysachuk T. Cases of death of birds of prey in Ukraine// Bulletin of Lviv University. Series Biological. – Lviv: LNU, 2007. – Issue 45. – P. 139-147. [in Ukrainian].

Pdf-file, 0.8 kb.

Maxim Gavrilyuk

  1. One Response to “The death of birds of prey as a result of poaching – a sad example of ospreys in Ukraine”

  2. By Lida Barczyn on Sep 1, 2016

    As a first generation Ukrainian in the USA I’m appalled that people can be so heartless. In America we love Osprey like family. Shame on them.

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