Declining Little Eagles Hieraaetus morphnoides and increasing rabbit numbers near Canberra: is secondary poisoning by Pindone the problem?

The Little Eagle Hieraaetus morphnoides is declining in parts of south-eastern Australia, including the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) , even though the number of European Rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus is increasing. A nonpathogenic lagovirus related to Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) is protecting rabbits from RHD in cooler areas of south-eastern Australia. Consequently, the chemicals Pindone (2-pivalyl, 3-indandione) and 1080 (sodium fl uoroacetate) are used to poison rabbits, and Pindone may disable raptors and/or be fatal to them. Little Eagles take proportionally more rabbits than do Wedge-tailed Eagles Aquila audax, so Little Eagles may be more affected by secondary poisoning. We recommend that (i) the Little Eagle be uplisted from vulnerable to endangered in the ACT, and (ii) Pindone be banned in Little Eagle home ranges in the ACT.

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