Last golden eagle in Wales shot TWICE before it died from infection

Last surviving golden eagle in Wales was shot TWICE before it died from fungal infection, post mortem reveals as BBC Springwatch presenter Iolo Williams slams ‘idiots’ who ‘shoot at anything’

  • The bird was found by walker at summer after surviving around 12 years in Wales
  • Iolo Williams was heartbroken after it was found dead in the Abergwesyn Valley
  • A post mortem listed the bird’s death as systemic Aspergillosis – fungal infection
  • But x-rays revealing it had been shot at least twice were later released after FOI

The last golden eagle in Wales was shot twice before it died from a fungal infection, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

The bird was found by a walker this summer after surviving around 12 years swooping remote valleys and hills.

Naturalist Iolo Williams spent weeks tracking it as part of a BBC series – and was heartbroken after it was found dead in the Abergwesyn Valley, near Tregaron, Powys.

A post mortem listed the bird’s death as systemic Aspergillosis – a fungal infection – but x-rays revealing it had been shot at least twice were later released after an FOI.

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

A post mortem listed the bird’s death as systemic Aspergillosis – a fungal infection – but x-rays revealing it had been shot at least twice were later released after an FOI

Naturalist Iolo Williams spent weeks tracking it as part of a BBC series – and was heartbroken after it was found dead in the Abergwesyn Valley, near Tregaron, Powys

Williams wrote on Twitter: ‘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.’

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.’

Williams described the death of Wales’ last golden eagle as ‘more than the death of just an eagle’

The bird was already something of a local celebrity – with a dedicated Facebook fan page detailing sightings but often going unseen for months at a time

The bird was already something of a local celebrity – with a dedicated Facebook fan page detailing sightings but often going unseen for months at a time.

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

He tracked the movements of the originally captive bird in the remote valleys of the Cambrian Mountains for his latest series Iolo: The Last Wilderness of Wales.

He said: ‘Wales has lost one of its greatest characters.’

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

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

The golden eagle – with a wingspan of up to 2.2 metres – has been largely extinct from England and Wales since 1850

TV naturalist Williams 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.’

The eagle was collected by a television crew member who ensured its registration in the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme run by the Welsh Government.

The post mortem report gave the cause of death as asperillosis, and added: ‘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 FoI, correspondence from the Welsh Government said: ‘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.’

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