Buzzard found poisoned in North York Moors National Park

Press release from North Yorkshire Police (8 Oct 2018):

In January a dead buzzard was found in suspicious circumstances on top of a dry-stone wall, next to a layby on the Kildale to Commondale road near Percy Rigg in the North York Moors.

[Google map showing the road between Kildale and Commondale and surrounding grouse moors]

The find was made by a member of the public, who reported it to the RSPB and North Yorkshire Police.

The area is very public, and it is unlikely that the bird died where it was found, but appears to have been placed onto the wall deliberately.

The bird was collected and no obvious signs of trauma were found, and an x-ray revealed no signs of injury. The bird was sent for toxicology tests under the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS).

The results show that chloralose poisoning was the likely cause of death.

Sergeant Stuart Grainger, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said:

North Yorkshire is known for its wonderful countryside, which is home to many species of birds, including protected birds of prey. Sadly, as a county, we have more confirmed incidents of raptor persecution than any other county in England – a situation North Yorkshire Police is absolutely determined to tackle.

It is saddening that this magnificent bird has been poisoned. I would urge anyone with any information about this incident to contact us on 101, or you can speak with someone in confidence by ringing the RPSB hotline number.”

[RSPB Raptor Crime Hotline Number: 0300-999-0101]

Jenny Shelton, RSPB Investigations Liaison Officer, said:

Raptor persecution is a serious, ongoing issue which is affecting some of our most incredible birds of prey. Our UK population of buzzards dropped during the 20th century largely due to illegal killing, and it’s alarming that these practices are continuing even today. This was a despicable and deliberate act. If you have any information, please speak out.

If you have any information about the circumstances of the buzzard’s death, or why it was placed on the wall, please contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, quoting reference number 12180127114.


It’s not clear why this appeal for information has only just been published when the buzzard was found poisoned in the National Park in January, although we understand the toxicology results weren’t provided by the lab until July.

It’s no surprise to learn that yet another raptor persecution crime has been detected in North Yorkshire, inside a National Park that is dominated by driven grouse moors.

[RPUK map]

22 Responses to “Buzzard found poisoned in North York Moors National Park”

  1. 1 crypticmirror
    October 8, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    “It’s not clear why this appeal for information has only just been published when the buzzard was found poisoned in the National Park in January”

    Guys, really? It is time for you to start calling out the pattern and the reason. Pulease Cor, what an eRuption.

  2. 2 Mike
    October 8, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    Can we establish an alternative to the Raptor Crime Hotline – a Stone Cold Raptor Line for all of these appeals?

  3. 3 Chris Dobson
    October 8, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    Isn’t this the Police Force who are making a fresh start & claiming to really care?

  4. 4 Dougie
    October 8, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    NINE MONTHS DELAY !! ……….. This is Insp. Clouseau territory.

    Also reported to the RSPB ?

    WTF is going on.

  5. 5 Les Wallace
    October 8, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    Placed deliberately on a wall…..so they’re giving us the two fingers as well? If anybody hasn’t signed this yet could they please do so and help return the gesture https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/226109

    • 6 Reece Fowler
      October 8, 2018 at 7:10 pm

      The fact that it was on top of a wall is very strange, I can’t think of any reason why someone would have put it there. Could have been someone who found it dead on the ground nearby and placed it there, but you would have thought they would have been the ones to report it. Whoever was responsible for poisoning it certainly wouldn’t want to display it like that. Very odd, and we’ll probably never have an explanation.

      • 7 Les Wallace
        October 9, 2018 at 2:46 pm

        I’m not sure that they wouldn’t want to display it there to demonstrate their callousness and belief that they’ll just keep getting away with it. They’re a strange lot – I’m sure it goes beyond cold hearted and selfish killing of predators so more birds can be shot for fun for many of them, there’s some weird pathological hatred/jealously going on there. A shooter I’d argued with on some FB page recently went on to my page and clicked the ‘ha ha’ emoticon to a story I’d shared from a friend about two hedgehogs being burnt to death by teenagers, he wanted me to think he found that funny – a man in his late fifties at least. You become used to that after a while until it hits you now and again how extraordinary and pathetic that behaviour is in grown men and women. These are people with guns and, hopefully, firearm certificates – which is worrying, they’re hardly the most stable or mature of individuals and often display very aggressive tendencies. Raptor workers who had been studying a goshawk nest in the Peak District once came back to find the chicks had been killed and laid out for display – their legs had been cut off, the chicks had been ringed. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the buzzard was put there to put out a message. There’s not much that’s rational about this lot and they seem to love feeling that they’re put upon and dealing out spite.

  6. 9 Dougie
    October 8, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    The buzzard was sent for testing under the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme. From my reading that course of action is followed when poisoning by an agricultural pesticide is suspected. Why would a dead bird on a dyke suggest pesticide poisoning ?
    Sounds like yet again another meandering journey down a dead end road.

    • 10 Dylanben
      October 9, 2018 at 12:34 pm

      No doubt poisoning was suspected if the bird had been in good condition and there was no obvious cause of death revealed on either detailed physical examination or x-rays. Maybe the strange location of the carcass did not immediately suggest persecution, but it may have been placed there by someone who wished to draw attention to it but did not want to get involved. Rather than decrying the actions of the authorities here, maybe we should applaud the initiative which saw an apparently unlikely candidate accepted into WIIS, producing a confirmed poisoning outcome. Poison testing under the WIIS process is currently taking an inordinate length of time – something else for Mr Gove to investigate.

  7. 11 Dave Dick
    October 8, 2018 at 8:07 pm

    Remember this…anything that can poison and kill a buzzard can also kill and poison a pet, more wildlife or even a human. People who use poison capable of killing a buzzard dont give a damn about wildlife or you……..When will the authorities start taking poisoning seriously…in order to kill anything there needs to be a bait, was it ever found?..These are serious crimes, local people should be warned about the presence of poison asap.

    • 12 Dougie
      October 9, 2018 at 12:00 pm

      100% correct ………… This has been said before, but it will take a child to be killed before there is any meaningful action.

  8. 13 Jimmy
    October 8, 2018 at 10:05 pm

    It appears the only way to put an end to this is to chuck the grouse botherers out of our national parks – their presence is simply not campatible with the preservation of our natural heritage

  9. 14 keen birder
    October 8, 2018 at 10:12 pm

    It may have flown onto the wall and stayed there until it died, chloralose is not instant and birds can sometimes manage to fly a short distance after eating the bait, surely the birds last meal could have been seen in its stomach, giving a further clue as to what had happened to it. Chloralose was widely used in the 70s, I even saw it advertised in shooting times.

  10. 15 AlanTwo
    October 9, 2018 at 9:32 am

    I know RPUK is usually reluctant to criticise the police in these matters, but it would be nice to have a bit more insight into your thinking on these delays, rather than just ‘It’s not clear why…’

    • October 9, 2018 at 9:58 am

      Hi AlanTwo,

      We need to consider each delay on a case by case basis. In this case, the first 6-7 months of delay appears to have been caused by the lab not producing results until July. We don’t know why that took so long – was it simply a matter of a lack of urgency or was the lab too busy/understaffed, was the carcass in such a poor state that it took extra work to identify the poison? We genuinely don’t know.

      The police delay from receiving the results in July until the appeal for information in Oct is also a mystery, especially given the police force involved. North Yorks Police have put a huge amount of effort in to tackling illegal raptor persecution in recent months (e.g. with Op Owl and their exceptional efforts in securing the conviction of gamekeeper Tim Cowin for shooting two short-eared owls at Whernside Estate) so the delay in this case is out of character for them. If you watched Channel 4’s Dispatches last night (Lawless Britain: Where are the Police?) then we should probably be impressed that an appeal for information was issued at all!

      But Dave Dick’s comment (above) is spot on. Even with just a suspicion of poisoning, whether the results had been confirmed or not, the local community should have been warned of the potential danger immediately.

      • October 9, 2018 at 10:43 am

        Interesting comments on Alan Stewart’s blog.

        It seems that one way or another raptor crime and the fight against are being heavily influenced by government austerity policy. Police, NE and CPS(?) and who knows where else in the chain barely fit for purpose. Same in Scotland.
        But no worries the Maybot is dancing because austerity is over…again.
        Sorry to rant but the rich who caused all this mess are the same set or subset who are behind the raptor killing.

      • 18 crypticmirror
        October 9, 2018 at 2:55 pm

        Please, the cops can get appeals for information to the public within hours on other crimes. Even if it is just suspicion of a crime. Consider it on case-by-case if you want, but the consideration process goes “is this an appeal on the day of discovery Y/N?” – “If Y then appeal is timely and police doing their job; praise appropriate” – “If N then appeal is not timely and skullduggery is afoot; Condemnation of the highest form is appropriate”. That is the case-by-case consideration flowchart there for you to use.

      • 19 AlanTwo
        October 10, 2018 at 9:53 am

        RPUK – many thanks for your considered reply. However, I find myself close to some of the other commenters here. I quite understand the huge amount of effort it takes to investigate fully and prosecute crimes of this sort, so in these cash-strapped times I have every sympathy with the police trying to prioritise high-profile cases and those with a good chance of conviction.
        However, I can’t see that it takes much effort to put out a simple, factual statement and appeal for information, and I can’t see why it should ever take months to do so. Surely the police know better than anyone that a long delay dramatically reduces the chance of reliable information ever being brought forward.
        I think everyone here has considerable respect for your judgement in these matters, and we wouldn’t want anything done to sour your relationship with the police unnecessarily. But we do find these delays baffling and frustrating, and each reported delay only lends weight to the ‘conspiracy’ rather than the ‘cock-up’ explanation of events.

  11. 20 Tom Gun
    October 9, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    RSPCA would be better placed to investigate this. Being able to commit more time, resources and specialist investigators.

  12. 21 Dougie
    October 9, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    Exactly so !

  13. 22 Nigel
    October 10, 2018 at 6:46 pm

    A kestrel was found dead on a path in the same area last month. It has apparently been sent for analysis to
    It was found on the Redcar&Cleveland/North York’s boundary. Don’t know if North York’s police were notified or not.

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