07 December, 2016 01:00
AN Irish bird conservation charity has hit out at reports that buzzards have been targetting animals including dogs, cats and rabbits in a series of attacks.
Birdwatch Ireland described recent media claims in Tipperary as scaremongering and "highly misleading and misinformed".
According to some reports buzzards were responsible for attacks where "a number of terriers having been taken, leading to call for protection orders to be lifted."
It claimed that one Yorkshire terrier was attacked twice and killed, while one TD had complained of buzzards circling over his head.
One report said: "There are also concerns that with the increase in buzzards, the spring lambing season after Christmas could be an ideal hunting ground for them - but a very costly one for sheep owners."
A spokesman for BirdWatch Ireland said the species, which has re-colonised rapidly in recent years, posed no threat to sheep or lambs.
"This is a myth which refuses to die in some quarters, and it needs to stop. By preying on crows, rats and other pests, buzzards in reality bring a number of clear benefits to our sheep farmers.
"Buzzards also prey on rabbits, but are incapable of killing prey larger than this. Contrary to claims in the article, buzzards pose no threat whatsoever to the survival of Ireland’s hare population."
The charity said that while other countries in Europe have higher buzzard populations than Ireland "there does not seem to be any comparable scaremongering or media-induced panic and misinformation about threats to pets there."