Posts Tagged ‘carbofuran


Another poisoned buzzard in Scotland

buzzard 3Scotland’s shameful catalogue of illegally-killed raptors continues to rise, with news today of yet another poisoned bird – this time a buzzard in Fife.

Here’s a press release from Police Scotland:

Police in Fife are conducting investigations after a dead buzzard was found in woods to the north of Ballingry in late April.

Enquiries at that time suggested the bird had died of natural causes but this was further explored by means of toxicology tests carried out by a Scottish Government laboratory.

This week it has been confirmed the bird died from ingesting a banned pesticide, and the matter has now been referred to the Police.

Detective Inspector Colin Robson, who is leading the inquiry, said: “The bird was found on land in an area commonly used by dog walkers. From the toxicology results, I believe it is probable that the bird has fed on an animal carcass deliberately laced with this poison. Such an act is both illegal and highly irresponsible in an area regularly used by members of the public, and the placing out of poison baits like this is indiscriminate in its victims. This illegal chemical is highly toxic, and the ingestion of even minute quantities by a wild animal or a pet is likely to have fatal consequences. Although relatively remote, I would urge anyone who frequents this area to contact the Police if they saw anyone or anything suspicious around this time or have knowledge of this or similar incidents. Since the discovery there have been no reported linked incidents locally and the area where the bird was found has been searched and there has no trace of the poison or other carcasses. Police Scotland are committed to tackling wildlife crime and this matter is being robustly investigated in close collaboration with partner agencies.”

Ian Thomson, Head of Investigations at RSPB Scotland said: “The recent incident on the Black Isle, where 22 birds of prey were killed, showed very clearly the horrendous impact that the illegal use of poisons can have on wildlife. It is of great concern that someone has placed a bait laced with this illegal chemical out in the countryside in an area well-used by the public and close to our own nature reserve at Loch Leven. I urge anyone who has information about this incident to contact the police as soon as possible.”

Brent Meakin, Forestry Commission Scotland’s district manager for the Lowlands said: “It is appalling that individuals are carrying out this illegal and barbaric practice. The persecution of raptors must stop. Any poisoning of these birds is one too many, no matter the species. We will continue to work with the Police and other agencies to stamp out this activity. The Commission would also like to ask the public for their help as they too can be our eyes and ears and report any suspicious activity.”


So, once again the name of the banned poison has not been made public, although from the comments made by Det Insp Robson, it sounds suspiciously like it was Carbofuran.

Shall we ask Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse what he intends to do in response to this, and the other recently-reported raptor crimes from Scotland? It’s yet another illegally-killed raptor on his watch. Shall we ask him when he intends to actually address this issue, instead of making trite old threats that he’ll ‘deal with it if things don’t improve’? Things are not improving, despite the introduction of his ‘new measures’ a year ago, so it’s not unreasonable for us to ask our elected representative whether he’s as good as his word. Emails to:

UPDATE 15.00hrs: The specific location where the poisoned bait is suspected to have been laid out has been named as Benarty Wood, managed by Forestry Commission Scotland. Dog-walkers beware – see here for site info.


Members of public foil attempt to poison peregrine family

dalkey_quarryAn attempt to poison a family of peregrines (two adults and four youngsters) at Dalkey Quarry, part of the Killiney Hill Park in Co. Dublin, has been foiled thanks to three observant members of the public.

On the evening of 11th June, three walkers noticed two pigeons in distress at the quarry, close to the well-known peregrine’s nest ledge. On closer inspection, the pigeons were found to be tethered with fishing line and had had their wings clipped to prevent them from flying. While rescuing the pigeons, a wet substance was noticed on the back of their necks. It is suspected that this was poison, placed there in a deliberate attempt to kill the peregrines. The substance is being tested at a specialist lab.

If it was poison, those members of the public are lucky not to have been affected.

Full details of the story can be found on the BirdWatch Ireland website here.

It wouldn’t be the first time this barbaric method has been used to kill raptors. In 2011, two buzzards and a sparrowhawk were killed in Ireland after being attracted to live tethered pigeons that had been smeared with the banned poison Carbofuran (see here).


Another suspected red kite poisoning incident in Northern Ireland

There’s more grim news from Northern Ireland this week with the discovery of a dead adult red kite on her nest, along with two chicks. Poisoning is strongly suspected.


The authorities were alerted to a potential problem at the Katesbridge nest in Co. Down by a sharp-eyed local resident who had been watching the nest from her house and was worried something had happened to the female.

The site was subsequently visited by members of the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group, RSPB and the Police Service of Northern Ireland where they found the adult (wingtagged ‘Blue 13′) slumped on the nest, along with the two chicks. Their bodies have been sent for toxicology tests.

These birds were part of the small breeding population in Northern Ireland, reintroduced (with donor birds from Wales) between 2008-2010. The population is still tiny and is extremely vulnerable to illegal poisoning.

In 2013 alone, six dead red kites were recovered. Tests revealed that two had been poisoned with Carbofuran, three with Alphachloralose, and one was too decomposed for analysis but was found in the same (very small) geographical area as three of the others.

At least this time the police have issued a very quick alert (within 24 hours of the discovery), in sharp contrast to the 13-month delayed announcement about a poisoned white-tailed eagle that we blogged about a couple of days ago (see here).

As a side issue, this is our 1,000th blog entry. It’s a milestone, but unfortunately not one to celebrate.



Ross-shire Massacre: police confirm banned poison involved

RK7The following statement has just been released by Police Scotland:

Police Scotland Highland and Islands Division are seeking to reassure the public that enquiries are still ongoing into a wildlife crime investigation regarding the death of birds of prey in the Ross-shire area.

The 22 birds (sixteen red kites and six buzzards) were located in the Conon Bridge area and following analysis of the birds’ remains, fifteen have been confirmed as having digested an illegally-held poisonous substance (twelve red kites and three buzzards). Post mortem examinations and toxicology work continues into all the birds seized.

Police Scotland is continuing to work in close collaboration with partner agencies. Landowners and farmers in the local area are also continuing to assist police with their ongoing enquiries.

Police are keen to speak to anyone who has any information about the incident and would encourage them to contact Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.


So, finally, they’ve managed to confirm that a banned poison was involved. About time, too. They still haven’t named it, but the “illegally-held poisonous substance” will be one (or more) of those named on the Possession of Pesticides (Scotland) Order 2005. These are:

Aldicarb, Alphachloralose, Aluminium Phosphide, Bendiocarb, Carbofuran, Mevinphos, Sodium Cyanide, and Strychnine.

Now, which industry hates raptors and is known to have a close association with these banned poisons…let’s think hard….erm….

It actually doesn’t matter that the police haven’t named the poison(s). Just knowing it’s a banned poison and not a ‘mystery virus’ or an ‘accidental poisoning’ is enough to put a halt to what has recently looked increasingly like a coordinated campaign to associate the deaths with the feeding regime at the RSPB’s Tollie Kite Feeding Station rather than focus attention on the specific area where the poisoned victims, along with poisoned bait, had been found.

It’s funny, isn’t it, that of all the speculation that’s been aired, nobody seems to have wondered about whether there’s any (legal) ‘vermin control’ being done on those farms around Conon Bridge. Perhaps done on a casual basis in return for access for a spot of pheasant shooting by a small shooting syndicate? But then that’s such an obvious angle of inquiry, the police must have covered it months ago…..right?

The number of confirmed poison victims has reached 15 (it really is like pulling teeth trying to get information about this incident) and the police ‘investigation’ continues…..

Previous blog posts on the Ross-shire Massacre here


Sea eagle poisoned in Northern Ireland: police appeal for info one year later!

WTE Mike Watson2Last week, at the end of May 2014, the Police Service of Northern Ireland issued a vague press release calling for information about the discovery of a poisoned white-tailed eagle in the Armoy area of Northern Ireland. Toxicology results revealed the bird had been killed by the banned poison, Carbofuran.

The thing is, this bird was discovered in April 2013 – over a year ago – and yet this is the first time the PSNI have published anything about it.

Here’s what their press release said:

“Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a sea eagle.

During April 2013 police received a report from a member of the public regarding a dead sea eagle found within the Armoy area.

Subsequent toxicology reports confirmed Carbofuran poisoning to be the cause of death.

Carbofuran is a banned substance which is highly toxic and poses a serious risk to public health and safety.

Police are appealing to anyone with information in relation to this incident to contact them on the new non-emergency number 101″.

It’s not known if this was an adult or a juvenile bird, or whether it was from the Kerry reintroduction project in SW Ireland or whether it was a Scottish bird.

It’s also not known whether this appalling delay was due to the toxicology lab, or whether it was due to the police, or both. It’s not the first time that such chronically long delays have occurred here – see here and here for previous blogs. Whichever agency is responsible, it’s shocking that it has has taken over a year for an appeal for information.

It’s worth asking some questions about this. Let’s email the following people to ask about why it has taken so long to (a) appeal for information about this crime, and (b) warn the public in the Armoy area of Northern Ireland about the serious risk of a banned and highly toxic poison lying around in the countryside:

Environment Minister Mark H. Durkan (who incidentally has recently pledged improved action against wildlife crime – see here). His email address:

Minister for Agriculture Michelle O’Neill (who is directly responsible for overseeing the process of toxicology sampling). Her email address:

The local police office of the Armoy area:

Photo of a white-tailed eagle by Mike Watson



Head gamekeeper convicted of storing 5 banned poisons: gets conditional discharge

sledmereDerek Sanderson, a recently-retired head gamekeeper for a shooting syndicate on the Sledmere Estate in Yorkshire, was yesterday found guilty of storing five banned poisons in his house and in an unlocked outbuilding.

Those poisons were Carbofuran, Aldicarb, Mevinphos, Strychnine and Alphachloralose.

His sentence? A conditional discharge and a £15 victim surcharge!!!!!!!

The court apparently accepted that there was no causal link between the possession of these poisons and a dead buzzard found on Sledmere Estate in 2012 – confirmed as having been poisoned with Aldicarb.

Bob Elliot, Head of RSPB Investigations, has written an excellent blog about this, frankly, unbelievable case, here.

What sort of deterrent value is such a pathetic sentence?


Tenuous threat of ‘killer drug’ Diclofenac to Scottish golden eagles

diclofenacThere’s a rather sensationalised article in today’s Scotsman claiming ‘Killer drug threat to Scotland’s golden eagles’ (see here).

The article suggests that Scottish golden eagles, and other raptors, could be under threat from the veterinary drug Diclofenac – the drug responsible for the catastrophic decline of several vulture species in parts of Asia. This drug has recently gone on sale in Europe, causing widespread concern for its probable effect on several European vulture species (e.g. see here).

The Scotsman’s scaremongering headline appears to be based on the results of a newly-published paper that reports on evidence of Diclofenac toxicity in steppe eagles in India. The link to golden eagles has been made because golden eagles and steppe eagles are in the same genus (Aquila).

However, if you actually read the paper, the evidence is based on only two dead steppe eagles. While of concern, it is still quite premature to transpose those results into a headline-grabbing article that suggests golden eagles in Scotland could be at threat. The study’s findings need to be expanded substantially and be based on a lot bigger sample size than just two individuals before the evidence becomes compelling.

Scottish raptors are unlikely to be at the same level of risk as species in Asia, given that livestock carcass dumps are not permitted here. However, some on social media are arguing that Diclofenac may be used (mis-used) as a substance with which to lace a poisoned bait.

Of course, Scottish golden eagles and other raptors could well be at risk, but then it could be argued that they are also at risk from a whole suite of potentially poisonous substances, some of them just ordinary household products, if those wishing to poison raptors choose to try out other chemicals. However, given the apparent availability of large stocks of the banned pesticide Carbofuran, and the known toxic effects of Carbofuran (i.e. fast acting and pretty much 100% effective), why would a poisoner risk using a chemical that ‘might’ work when he knows he’s got something that definitely will have the desired effect?

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be concerned about the availability of Diclofenac in Europe – of course we should – but those concerns currently focus on the drug’s known effect on Gyps vulture species and thus its significant threat to at least three vulture species in Europe. For that reason, it should be immediately removed from the market.

As for Scotland’s golden eagles, the main threat continues to be the illegal use of the banned poison, Carbofuran. Of 15 eagles (golden & sea eagles) known to have been poisoned since 2006, 13 of them were killed with Carbofuran (see here). This poison has also been used persistently to kill hundreds of other raptors in recent decades, including buzzards, red kites, peregrines etc etc and it is no surprise that it has been named ‘the gamekeepers’ poison of choice’.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 749 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 1,000,060 hits

our recent blog visitors