SKIBBEREEN vet Grace O’Regan’s heart sank on Sunday when she found the juvenile buzzard she had been treating had died.
The young buzzard was found the previous Monday, January 11th, at The Pike in Clonakilty by a motorist who saw it being blown around by the wind at the side of the road.
After taking advice from a friend working with Irish Wildlife Matters, the woman transported the young female in a dog carrier to Jerry McCarthy’s veterinary clinic.
Grace inspected the bird and found ‘no obvious trauma.’ It was, however, emaciated and had no power in its talons, which, the vet said, could be caused by a spinal fracture, a slipped disc, nerve damage, lead poisoning, or avian influenza.
It didn’t eat anything on Monday but by Tuesday it was hand-feeding raw mince. When Walsh’s Butchers heard what Grace wanted the meat for, they gave her hearts, livers and other such delicacies.
‘We called her Buzz,’ said Grace. Another buzzard she’d cared for last year – one that had a much happier outcome – was called Neil, after the astronaut Neil Armstrong.
‘Buzz seemed to be doing great – she was eating all ‘round her – and a woman in Dingle, who has a sanctuary, was going to take her if she tested negative for avian influenza.’
The clinic notified the department of agriculture because buzzards are an endangered species and the regional veterinary laboratory in Cork because they are monitoring avian influenza. X-rays taken at the clinic showed no signs of lead pellets, pneumonia or fractures. Blood tests were taken, but there was no sign of power coming back into Buzz’s legs. On Sunday, before going out on a call, Grace checked in at the clinic and found her dead in her cage.
According to Grace, everyone at the clinic was upset. ‘We’d had her for six days. She was getting everything she needed and we thought she was getting better.’
Buzz has been sent to the regional veterinary lab for a post mortem. While there is some speculation that the cause of death could be lead poisoning, Grace said: ‘It is not our job to speculate. We will have to wait for the lab results next week.’
Last August, the charitable organisation, The Amica Projects, offered a €5,000 reward for information leading to the prosecution of those responsible for the deliberate poisoning of 23 buzzards in West Cork.