An Australian man was arrested and charged on Tuesday for poisoning 136 wedge-tailed eagles following a nationwide investigation involving more than 30 people, the BBC reported.
Authorities found the bodies in April and proceeded to raid four properties in Victoria, Australia, according to a Facebook post by the Victoria’s Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP).
The man is accused of using poisoned bait to kill the birds, which are Australia’s largest bird of prey and an endangered species, between Oct. 2016 and April 2018, The Independent noted.
Authorities said the incident is the largest case of wedge-tailed eagle deaths to occur in the state’s history.
A DELWP spokeswoman confirmed that investigations were ongoing, with forensic examinations conducted on evidence recently seized during property searches.
According to the ABC, the man charged does not own the property where the carcasses were found.
He was released on bail and faces two charges under the Wildlife Act 1975, which could include a maximum penalty of up to six months’ imprisonment and fines totaling about $115,000.
A wildlife caretaker in Western Australia told Daily Mail Australia the poisonings were shocking.
“I don't understand. Australia doesn't have a lot of eagles. Why poison them?,” Rose Best said. “It's tragic. That's massive.”
She noted that such a large number of deaths could impact the local ecosystem.
“The biggest thing is that it throws the environment out of balance just like we've seen with the cane toads,” Best said. “It disturbs the balance of nature because they're one of the biggest predators.”
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