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Last Surviving Golden Eagle In Wales Was Shot Twice Before It Died

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Last Surviving Golden Eagle In Wales Was Shot Twice Before It Died

The last surviving golden eagle in Wales that was found dead on a mountainside had been shot twice, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

The dead bird was found by a walker this summer after surviving around 12 years in the remote valleys and hills of Wales.

Credit: Wales News Service
Credit: Wales News Service

It was found dead in the Abergwesyn Valley, near Tregaron, Powys, and a post mortem listed the bird's death as systemic Aspergillosis - a fungal infection - but x-rays reveal that it had been shot at least twice.

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Taking to Twitter, Iolo Williams, who spent weeks tracking it as part of a BBC series, said: "Having filmed this amazing bird, I was absolutely gutted to find that she had been found dead.

"The landowners in and around Tregaron where the bird set up home are also saddened and, to a person, were delighted to have the eagle around.

"Unfortunately, the discovery of lead shot in her leg shows that there are still far too many idiots out there with shotguns who will shoot at absolutely anything."

Credit: Wales News Service
Credit: Wales News Service
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Williams said it was 'highly unlikely' anyone living locally had shot the bird because they appreciated her beauty.

He added: "I've spoken to so many landowners who were delighted to have the bird in their area. It just goes to show there are some people carrying shotguns who shouldn't be carrying guns at all.

"I'm absolutely gutted that the bird has gone and can't help feeling that we've lost an opportunity to get a mate for her."

The bird was already something of a local celebrity - with a dedicated Facebook fan page detailing sightings, although it would often go unseen for months at a time.

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Williams described the death of Wales' last golden eagle in August as 'more than the death of just an eagle'.

Credit: Wales News Service
Credit: Wales News Service

The golden eagle - with a wingspan of up to 2.2 metres - has been largely extinct from England and Wales since 1850 with the only UK stronghold remaining in Scotland.

This last one in Wales was originally captive but was freed to live over the Cambrian Mountains around Tregaron, Powys.

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TV naturalist Iolo said: "The demise of this magnificent bird is more than just the death of an eagle.

"The Tregaron area has lost one of its great characters and Wales has lost a palpable link to its distant past. We are a poorer country without her."

Credit: Wales News Service
Credit: Wales News Service

The eagle was collected by a fellow member of Iolo's television crew, who has ensured its registration in the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme run by the Welsh Government.

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The post mortem report gave the cause of death as asperillosis, adding: "Asperillosis is the most common fungal mycosis in birds. Aspergillus fumigatus is a ubiquitous opportunistic organism and factors impairing the birds' immunity can predispose to disease.

"No underlying immunocompromising factors were detected on testing. There were extensive, chronic lesions throughout the carcass likely resulting in reduced feed intake, ill-thrift and dehydration, and ultimately death."

In an email released under a Freedom of Information request, correspondence from the Welsh Government stated: "I will be letting [redacted] know the results of the PM but I will leave out the section about the shot. It is evidence that the bird was a target of persecution at some point but not a cause of death."

Featured Image Credit: Wales News Service

Topics: UK News, Animals

Rebecca Shepherd
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