A FAMILY of four rare eagles has been poisoned in Donana National Park.
A Spanish Imperial Eagle and her two chicks were found dead in the town of Aznalcazar, Sevilla on July 4.
Her mate is also likely to have been killed.
Questions surround the motive behind the crime, with suspicions over a possible link between the death of the birds and the recent refusal of an application to convert the use of a piece of land.
The eagles’ nest was sited in an area suitable for farming, yet protected as part of Donana National Park and home to this rare species.
The Andalucia Bird Society released a statement expressing its outrage: “We feel numbed by the mentality of this kind of subhuman behaviour. If caught the person should face an extremely hefty fine or even a jail term.”
Worries meanwhile remain over the male eagle, who has not yet been sighted, leading many to fear that he may also have been killed.
Investigations into the crime revealed poison had been hidden in a rabbit that was later smuggled into the enclosed feeding area used by the team responsible for the eagles’ well-being.
The deaths of the three birds come as a blow to the species, with only 250 pairs remaining across the globe.
Peter Jones, biologist and wildlife guide, said: “The most disgusting aspect of the crime is that the pair of birds poisoned was the most sexually productive in the park and was vital for the future of the species’ survival.
“Crimes of this nature are very difficult to prove.
“It is unfortunate that the round-the-clock surveillance of the site had recently stopped, allowing someone to gain access to the site,” he added.