Suspected poisoning of red kite & buzzard in Herefordshire

RK by Drew BuckleyA dead red kite and a dead buzzard have been found in Herefordshire in what looks suspiciously like a poisoning incident.

According to an article in the Western Daily Express (here), the carcasses were discovered on farmland at Pontrilas, south Herefordshire, close to a dead pheasant. The farmer took the corpses to a vet but the vet couldn’t find any obvious sign of injury or disease.

The RSPCA is appealing for information, but strangely, the article doesn’t say whether the corpses have been submitted for toxicology analyses. Given the position of the two dead raptors and their proximity to a dead pheasant (commonly used as bait), it seems quite plausible that this could have been an illegal poisoning incident.

Let’s hope the RSPCA contacts the RSPB Investigations team for advice.

Red kite photograph by Drew Buckley.


8 Responses to “Suspected poisoning of red kite & buzzard in Herefordshire”

  1. 1 Claire Barker
    September 1, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    So depressing.

  2. September 1, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    This is not the first report from that area. Dead buzzards have been found before. Even trapped and discarded corpses with broken legs.

  3. September 1, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    I know this area quite well, although in Herefordshire it is just outside Abergavenny. It surprises me and disgusts me, if the RSPCA does nothing about this, then they need to be questioned as to why!

  4. September 2, 2014 at 6:20 am

    Received this from HM government e-petitions, apologies if it’s been posted previously:

    Dear Mr. Tyler,

    The e-petition ‘Ban driven grouse shooting’ signed by you recently reached 16,828 signatures and a response has been made to it.

    As this e-petition has received more than 10 000 signatures, the relevant Government department have provided the following response: It has been estimated that £250 million per year is spent on management activities that provide significant benefits for conservation. Shooting makes an important contribution to the rural economy. When carried out in accordance with the law, shooting for sport is a legitimate activity, and our position is that people should be free to undertake lawful activities should they wish to do so. Landowners are free to manage wildlife on their land, provided it is carried out appropriately and legally, in accordance with any the relevant wildlife legislation. Hen Harriers: it is encouraging to learn that there are four hen harrier nests this year which have chicks, given that in 2013 there were no known hen harrier fledglings in England. Some of these fledglings will be tracked with satellite tags we have funded. The Uplands Stakeholder Forum Hen Harrier Sub-group was set up in 2012 with senior representatives from organisations best placed to take action to address the decline in Hen Harriers. These include Natural England, the Moorland Association, the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, the National Parks Authority and the RSPB. Defra welcomes the involvement of all parties. The Sub-group has developed a draft Joint Action Plan containing a suite of complementary actions intended to contribute to the recovery of the hen harrier population in England. We are working with Sub-group members to finalise the Plan. Illegal killing of birds of prey The killing of birds of prey is illegal, all wild birds being protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Anyone who kills or injures a wild bird is committing an offence and could face jail if convicted. Bird of prey persecution is one of the six UK wildlife crime priorities. The England and Wales Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group leads on action to address these crimes through prevention, intelligence and enforcement activity. The National Wildlife Crime Unit gathers intelligence on illegal activities affecting birds of prey, providing assistance to police forces when required. Earlier this year the Government confirmed that the Home Office and Defra would together provide funding until 2016, demonstrating the Government’s commitment to tackling wildlife crime. Alongside this, there have been successful conservation measures which have led to increases in buzzard, peregrine and red kite populations over the last two decades. Peatland In February 2013 we, along with the devolved administrations, made a statement of intent to protect and enhance the natural capital provided by peatlands in the UK. In September 2013 the Pilot Peatland Code was launched with the aim of promoting the restoration of UK peatland through business investment. It is intended that the Code will assure restoration delivers tangible benefits for climate change alongside other benefits such as restoring habitats for protected species and improving water quality. The last decade has seen increasing numbers of conservation initiatives (such as Nature Improvement Areas and Sites of Special Scientific Interest) many of which are focussed on peatland restoration in the UK. We are working with a wide range of partners on peatland restoration, including land owners and environmental NGOs. Rural Development Programme We are committed to helping create a more sustainable future for the English uplands, which are endowed with natural assets that are important for delivering a range of valuable “ecosystem services”, including food and fibre, water regulation, carbon storage, biodiversity, and recreational opportunities for health and wellbeing. We will be investing over £3 billion in agri-environment schemes (Environmental Stewardship and its successor) in the next Rural Development Programme 2015-2020. Addressing loss of biodiversity will be a priority for the new Programme. In addition funding will look to maximise opportunities to deliver biodiversity, water quality and flooding benefits together. Defra is working with a wide range of interests to finalise scheme details in good time for 2015. This e-petition remains open to signatures and will be considered for debate by the Backbench Business Committee should it pass the 100 000 signature threshold. [end]

    Disappointing to see that the only independent and ‘pro’ hen harrier organisation mentioned as part of the Uplands Stakeholder Forum Hen Harrier Sub-group is the RSPB, all the others seeming to be biased towards the landowners . . .

    • 5 peter hoffmann
      September 2, 2014 at 11:22 am

      Yup …Natural England, the Moorland Association, the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, the National Parks Authority .. “stake holders” takes on a rather sinister meaning!

  5. 6 Chris Roberts
    September 2, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Gamekeepers going about their unlawful business again!

  6. 7 crypticmirror
    September 2, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Depressing that it happened, but interesting it was a farmer who reported it. Many farmers would have just chucked the dead birds into the farm midden or into the nearest river or ditch.

  7. 8 secret shooter
    September 2, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    How fortunate that the finder of these birds did not suffer any harmful effects from handling these birds. What a shame that they were not aware of or chose not to follow the advice provided by RSPB (and others offering similar advice).

    It is unfortunate that these birds were removed from the scene, it will make any Police investigation more complicated but these things happen. I hope that the RSPCA have now handed the birds over to the Police in order that they can be entered into the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) and toxicology tests undertaken. Of course the RSPCA could pay for private toxicology tests if they so wished but why would they do that if by handing over the exhibit to the Police testing would be done without charge?

    I have had a look at the press coverage of this case. Is anybody else concerned about the last sentence under the advert?

    To help the RSPCA investigate incidents like this please text HELP to 78866 to give £3.

    It is I think common knowledge that the RSPCA have financial worries. It is also the case that they get a spike in donations whenever they receive media coverage of their enforcement activities. Can we conclude that the societies recent increased interest in tackling a greater range of wildlife crimes has much to do with fund raising? But perhaps that is not important although it raises questions with me as to whether they will pay privately for toxicology tests.

    Am I right in thinking that this is not the first case of illegal poisoning in this part of the country? It always makes you wonder where perpetrators get their poisons from and indeed whether there might be some organised criminal activity around the supply of illegal poisons. I hope that the RSPCA before going public with this information made the NWCU aware of the incident and gave them opportunity to ask that the information should not be made public because enquiries along such lines could be compromised. Somebody please re-assure us that this was done and that the press release had nothing to do with the opportunity to seek donations!

    I must admit to being a little confused about the blog hoping that the RSPCA had contacted the RSPB for advice on this matter. Elsewhere on the site we are told that the SSPCA have the resource, expertise and experience to undertake wildlife crime investigations. I’m sure it is not being suggested that the RSPCA do not have the same qualities as their Scottish colleagues so why would they need to take advice from the RSPB?

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