Hillcrest pet owner says eagle carried off dogs and cat

2015-04-21 00:00

A HILLCREST woman says she is being “terrorised” by a Crowned Eagle that has allegedly killed two of her pets and injured one in less than six months.

Experts however said the likelihood of these birds preying on puppies and kittens is “extremely remote” and has more to do with bad luck rather than easy prey. In Pietermaritzburg the odds are even higher against death-by-eagle for a pet, with the local SPCA reporting no known recent incidents.

But Hillcrest resident Vivien Sneddon said her small fox terrier-cross called Buttercup was killed just last week. Her Maltese Belle was badly injured over the Easter weekend and of her Persian kitten Misty only tufts of fur remained on her lawn last year.

Sneddon said she is frantically trying to find other “victims” whose animals may have been killed by the eagle’s ­talons. “I found Buttercup lying in the garden with blood coming out of her nose over the Easter weekend. I could not stop the bleeding and she died in my arms. Her lung had been ­punctured,” said Sneddon.

Sneddon said she has approached the local newspaper in the hope to find more families who might have had their pets killed.

“The bird can only be relocated if there are enough people affected by its behaviour.”

Ben Hoffman, who runs a provincial-wide organisation called Raptor Rescue, said the Hillcrest and Waterfall area has the largest population of Crowned ­Eagles on the continent. “There is ­probably a one percent chance that your pet will be killed by a Crowned Eagle. It is very remote,” said Hoffman.

He said in Pietermaritzburg there was even less chance of it happening with sporadic incidents being reported in a handful of areas such as near the ­Botanic Gardens. “Often pets ­disappear and the owners blame birds of prey, but the reality is it is not ­common at all,” said Hoffman.

Hoffman said if there are enough complaints in an area a bird would have to be relocated. “We will move the bird, but it is time and cost intensive and ­requires various permissions. In the last 13 years, I know of only five birds being relocated,” said Hoffman.

Durban-based bird rehabilitation centre CROW director Claire Hodgkinson said in the past two years only two birds of prey had been admitted to its centre and that was after they had been deliberately hurt by farmers in retaliation for them preying on their livestock.

• jonathan.erasmus@witness.co.za

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