Posts Tagged ‘alphachloralose

16
Feb
20

Poisoned buzzard, next to poisoned bait: circumstances ‘inconclusive’ says Derbyshire Constabulary!

I don’t know what’s going on at Derbyshire Constabulary’s Rural Crime Team but someone needs to check that Amanda Anderson isn’t moonlighting.

You may recall a couple of weeks ago we blogged about an illegally poisoned buzzard that had been found dead in the Peak District National Park, next to an illegal poisoned bait (see here). The focus of the blog was the long delay from discovery (April 2019) to publicity (Jan 2020) and even then the publicity had come from the RSPB, not from the police.

[The illegally poisoned buzzard. Photo by Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group]

The story doesn’t end there.

On Friday (14th Feb), the following post appeared on Derbyshire Constabulary’s Rural Crime Team’s Facebook page:

Er….right oh.

The Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group has called out this nonsense with another blog and an open letter of complaint to the Derbyshire Police & Crime Commissioner – read it here.

Of particular note, this official toxicology report on the buzzard and the poisoned bait, written by Dr Ed Blane (National Coordinator for the independent Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme, HM Inspector Health & Safety Executive) who writes:

“…..The evidence therefore suggests that the Buzzard died as the result of the deliberate and illegal use of a high concentration of chloralose on a partridge bait, rather than through secondary poisoning from a different legally applied source…..

And yet Derbyshire Constabulary’s Rural Crime Team claims “There are too many unknown variables to conclusively say that the buzzard has been poisoned deliberately“.

And guess who’ll be using that ‘official police statement’ to play down the ongoing problem of illegal raptor persecution in the Peak District National Park?

Supt Nick Lyall – you need to be looking at this with some urgency.

UPDATE 23 February 2020: Derbyshire Police respond to criticism over poisoned buzzard investigation (here)

07
Feb
20

Buzzard illegally poisoned in Peak District National Park

A buzzard has been found illegally poisoned in the Peak District National Park.

A poisoned bait (a red-legged partridge) was found close by.

Toxicology tests revealed both the buzzard and the partridge contained the pesticide Alphachloralose.

[The poisoned buzzard. Photo by Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group]

The thing is, this illegally poisoned buzzard wasn’t found in January, or December, or in any other recent month. It was discovered on 14th April 2019.

The police decided, for whatever reason, that it was best to keep quiet about this. There were no public appeals for information and no public warnings that a poisoner was actively placing baits containing dangerous, highly toxic chemicals out in the countryside. Baits that if touched by a child, adult or a dog could result in acute illness and even death.

Two weeks ago the RSPB issued a press statement about this poisoning crime that reads as follows:

BUZZARD POISONED IN PEAK DISTRICT NATIONAL PARK

22 January 2020

A protected bird of prey has been illegally poisoned in one of the UK’s worst raptor persecution blackspots.

In April 2019 a member of the public found a buzzard freshly dead in woodland near Tintwistle, just north of Valehouse Reservoir, in the Peak District National Park. Close by were the remains of a red-legged partridge.

A post-mortem and toxicology tests under taken by Natural England showed that the buzzard and partridge both contained the pesticide Alphachloralose.

Natural England concluded that ‘abuse of chloralose, using a bird bait, has occurred at this location and at least one buzzard has been poisoned’.

All birds of prey are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To kill or injure one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months in jail. Derbyshire Police were made aware at the time of the discovery and informed of the toxicology result in August.

Alphachloralose is one of the most commonly abused pesticides for illegally targeting birds of prey.

The northern Dark Peak has been the scene of many crimes involving the poisoning, trapping and shooting of birds of prey, making it one of the UK’s worst blackspots, according to the RSPB’s recent Birdcrime report. A scientific article, Raptor Persecution in the Peak District National Park, cemented the link between raptor persecution and land managed for driven grouse shooting in the Peak District National Park.

[Confirmed raptor persecution crimes in the Dark Peak area of the Peak District National Park, 2007-2019. Map produced by RSPB]

Howard Jones, Investigations Officer at the RSPB, said: “The relentless destruction of birds of prey in the Dark Peak needs to stop. This area has become a black hole for birds of prey like buzzards though this is exactly the habitat where they should be thriving. Deliberately poisoning birds is not only illegal but incredibly dangerous to other wildlife, not to mention people and pets. What if a dog or a child had found this and touched it? It doesn’t bear thinking about.”

If you have any information relating to this incident, call Derbyshire Police on 101.

If you find a wild bird of prey which you suspect has been illegally killed, contact RSPB investigations on 01767 680551 or fill in the online form.

ENDS

When you’ve read more of these types of press release than you care to remember, you get a feel for style and content. It seems quite apparent that this is not a joint press release between the RSPB and the police, as so many of them often are. There’s no quote from an investigating police officer, there’s no incident number, and there’s a pointed sentence that Derbyshire Police were informed of the incident in April and updated with the toxicology results in August.

And then there’s this recent blog about the poisoning incident from the Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group, which is a bit difficult to follow because it references unsighted material and various unnamed email correspondents. However, what does seem clear is that someone from the shooting industry is claiming that a police officer said this poisoning incident was suspicious but ‘definitely not illegal persecution’.

Er…..right.

Haven’t we been in this position before, where it looked like deliberate attempts were being made to suppress confirmed raptor crimes in the Peak District National Park?

Let’s hope that isn’t what’s going on here, but nevertheless, there is absolutely no excuse for the police not to have warned the public about the presence of potentially lethal poisonous baits, at the time they were discovered, especially inside one of the country’s most visited National Parks.

UPDATE 16 February 2020: Poisoned buzzard, next to poisoned bait: circumstances ‘inconclusive’ says Derbyshire Constabulary! (here)

UPDATE 23 February 2020: Derbyshire Police respond to criticism over poisoned buzzard investigation (here)

09
Feb
17

Two red kites confirmed poisoned in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire

Red Kite Mali HallsYesterday, North Yorkshire Police put out the following press release:

POLICE WARNING FOLLOWING RED KITE POISONING

Police are appealing for information and warning about the dangers of illegal bird of prey poisoning.

Two red kites were found poisoned in the Nidderdale area of North Yorkshire in 2016.

One was found near Pateley Bridge on 12 March 2016. Tests have attributed its death to alphachloralose. Traces of aldicarb and three rodenticides (difenacoum, bromadiolone and brodifacoum) were also identified.

The second was found near Bouthwaite on 18 May 2016. Shockingly, tests have shown the presence of eight different poisons – alphachloralose, aldicarb, bendiocarb, carbofuran and isofenphos, together with three rodenticides.

Officers are appealing for information about the two incidents, and warning members of the public about the dangers of this illegal practice. Hard-hitting posters urging people to report suspected wildlife poisoning are being distributed across the county.

Inspector Jon Grainge, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “The use of poisons in the two Nidderdale cases is particularly shocking. The practice of lacing animal carcasses with poison to kill other wildlife is cruel and illegal. It is also a serious risk to members of the public and their children or pets if they come into contact with them.

If you find a mammal or bird that you believe has been poisoned, please do not touch it, as poisons can transfer through skin contact. Also keep youngsters and pets well away. Make a note of the location, including GPS co-ordinates if possible, and anything else that is around or near the animal, and contact the police immediately”.

Anyone with information about the poisoning of the red kites found in Nidderdale should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, quoting reference number 12160043415, or email ruraltaskforce@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk.

ENDS

Have a look at this map. The poisoned red kite at Bouthwaite was found just to the north of the Gouthwaite Reservoir, and the poisoned red kite near Pateley Bridge was found just to south. Look at the land use on either side of the reservoir: this is driven grouse shooting country.

nidderdale

Presumably these two poisoned red kites were part of the ten suspicious red kite deaths investigated in North Yorkshire in 2016. Most of those were confirmed shot but there were a number of suspected poisonings too.

It seems strange that North Yorkshire Police is only now appealing for information about two poisoned red kites that were found nine and eleven months ago respectively. The delay may be due to issues at the toxicology lab (it wouldn’t be the first time) and therefore beyond North Yorkshire Police’s control. The delay is certainly at odds with the commendable speed with which North Yorks Police announced some of last year’s shot red kites (e.g. see here – shot kite found on Sunday, press release out by Monday). They were also incredibly quick off the mark to go out and investigate the three illegal pole traps found on the Mossdale Estate grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park last year, and although senior officers ballsed up what should have been a straight forward prosecution, at least they were honest and transparent, admitted the mistake and amended their policies as a result.

The long delay aside, it is very good to see North Yorkshire Police provide detailed information about the type of poisons used in these two crimes (take note, Police Scotland). It’s also very good to see them proactively warning the public of the danger of these highly toxic substances (again, take note Police Scotland), especially as we head towards spring, which is typically the time when illegal raptor persecution really hots up.

North Yorkshire Police have certainly got their work cut out fighting wildlife crime, and particularly raptor persecution. North Yorkshire is consistently rated the worst county in the UK for the number of reported crimes against raptors, and a lot of it takes place in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the neighbouring Yorkshire Dales National Park. We were only talking about this region two days ago in relation to the ongoing persecution of hen harriers.

ydnp_aonb

Photo of red kite by Mali Halls

19
Dec
16

Subsidy penalty for East Arkengarthdale Estate?

Ten days ago we blogged about the RSPB’s Investigations Team finding a buried poisons cache on the East Arkengarthdale Estate in North Yorkshire in 2014 (see here).

east-arkengarthdale

Incredibly, nobody was prosecuted for this illegal stash and, despite the best efforts of North Yorkshire Police, the gamekeeper who had admitted using the poisons cache had his firearms certificates returned.

We asked several organisations within the grouse shooting industry a number of questions about this case (see here) but so far, none of them have said a word about it (in public, at least). We’ll come back to this.

What we’re interested in now is whether the East Arkengarthdale Estate will be the focus of an investigation by DEFRA’s Rural Payments Agency. Did this estate receive any agricultural subsidies in 2014, if so under what scheme(s), and does having confirmation that an estate gamekeeper was using the poisons cache constitute a cross-compliance breach of any of these subsidy schemes, and if so, will the estate receive a subsidy penalty?

According to records at Companies House, East Arkengarthdale Ltd has two Directors: Eric Axel Lennart Torstenson and Mrs Anita Ingrid Linnea Torstenson.

A search of the CAP Payments website shows that EAL Torstenson received the following subsidies in 2014 and 2015:

torstenson-2014-cap-payments

torstenson-2015-cap-payments

These documents show that EAL Torstenson received agricultural subsidies (trading as) Shaw Farm.

According to this 2003 newsletter about a Black Grouse Recovery Project, “Shaw Farm in North Yorkshire is part of the East Arkengarthdale Sporting Estate“.

Here’s a map of Shaw Farm, to the west of Hurst Moor where the poisons cache was found:

shaw-farm-map

We’d like to draw the Rural Payments Agency’s attention to this case (because they have a duty to investigate anything that is drawn to their attention so by telling them about it they can’t later claim they didn’t know anything about it) and we’d like them to answer the following questions:

  1. Did the CAP subsidies received by Shaw Farm in 2014 cover the land where the poisons cache was discovered?
  2. If so, does having a poisons cache, administered by a gamekeeper, qualify as a cross-compliance breach?
  3. If so, will the Rural Payments Agency be applying a subsidy penalty?

Emails to: ruralpayments@defra.gsi.gov.uk

06
May
16

More raptor poisonings in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland

Peregrine GlenwherryLast month we blogged about a dead peregrine that had been found at a well known persecution hotspot on 11th April 2016 (see here). Laboratory tests have now confirmed this peregrine was poisoned with the banned pesticide Carbofuran.

A further two poisoned raptors have now been reported in Co Antrim: a buzzard found in woodland in Glenarm on 15th March 2016 (lab results confirm Carbofuran poisoning) and a second buzzard, also found near Glenarm on 29th March 2016 (lab tests confirm Alphachloralose poisoning).

Media coverage here, here, here.

Well done to PSNI Wildlife Liaison Officer Emma Meredith, who pressed for a quick turnaround on these lab results. This is a major step forward in the fight against raptor persecution in Northern Ireland, where previous lab results and subsequent police appeals have taken far, far too long (e.g. see here).

A further step forward in tackling raptor persecution in NI was announced in March (here) with the launch of a multi-agency initiative, Operation Raptor. With the news of these latest three poisoning victims, they’ve got their work cut out.

16
Mar
16

Crown Office drops prosecution against Glenogil Estate gamekeeper

Snared fox dead alt, Glenogil Estate, Credit OneKindRegular blog readers will know we’ve been following the case of Scottish gamekeeper William Curr, who had been charged last year with alleged snaring offences on Glenogil Estate in the Angus Glens, said to have occurred in September 2014 (see here, here, here and here).

The charges related to allegations that several snares had not been checked (as they are required to be) within a 24-hour period of being set, after a field officer from the charity OneKind had discovered a dead snared deer, a dead snared fox and another snared fox that was still alive but had to be euthanised at the scene due to the extent of its horrific injuries (see OneKind photo).

For a harrowing description of what was found on Glenogil Estate, including a confrontation with the Head Gamekeeper, read this blog on the OneKind website.

Curr’s trial was due to start on 9th May but last week (10 March) the Crown Office informed the court that it was not going to proceed. OneKind has not yet been able to ascertain the reason for this decision, and in fact may never find out because the Crown Office is under no obligation to explain.

Accountability and transparency, anybody?

To quote from the OneKind blog:

OneKind is mystified by the dropping of this case, given the eye witness evidence, the horrific video footage and the detailed follow-up investigation carried out by the Scottish SPCA. This was a shocking incident where at least six people, including gamekeepers, witnessed the terror and pain of a live fox as the wire noose of a snare sliced into its abdomen. Had our research officer not been on the estate on that particular day, who knows how much longer the fox would have continued to suffer?

To put this dreadful story in the wider context: snares are still legal in Scotland and the rest of the UK. It is simply intolerable that the suffering this fox endured should be considered legally acceptable. The video footage is utterly harrowing and illustrates an animal which is clearly distressed, both physically and mentally. OneKind has long called for an outright ban on all snares and sadly we feel these calls have been justified by this case.

OneKind will seek an explanation for the failure of the Scottish justice system to bring this animal welfare case to court“.

The reason we’ve been so interested in this case is because the alleged offences occurred on the Glenogil Estate, one of several grouse shooting estates in the Angus Glens where wildlife crime incidents keep cropping up but have never resulted in a successful prosecution. For example, here are some incidents reported from in and around Glenogil over the last ten years:

2006 March: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2006 April: poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2006 April: poisoned tawny owl (Alphachloralose). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2006 May: poisoned rabbit bait (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2006 June: poisoned woodpigeon bait (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2006 June: Traces of Carbofuran found in estate vehicles & on equipment during police search. Not listed in 2006 RSPB annual report but reported here. (Now former) estate owner John Dodd had £107k withdrawn from his farm subsidy payments as a result. This was being appealed but it is not known how this was resolved. Also a write up in RSPB 2007 annual report. No prosecution.

2007 November, Glenogil Estate: Disappearance of radio-tagged white-tailed eagle ‘Bird N’ coincides with tip off to police that bird been shot. No further transmissions or sightings of the bird. Not listed in RSPB annual report but reported here. No prosecution.

2008 May: poisoned white-tailed eagle ‘White G’ (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). Listed as ‘Nr Noranside’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2008 May: poisoned buzzard (Bendiocarb). Listed as ‘Nr Noranside’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2008 May: poisoned mountain hare bait (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). Listed as ‘Nr Noranside’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2008 May: 32 x poisoned meat baits on fenceposts (Carbofuran, Isophenfos, Bendiocarb). Listed as ‘Nr Noranside’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2008 October: poisoned meat bait on fencepost (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Nr Noranside’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2009 March: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2009 March: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2009 August: poisoned white-tailed eagle “89” (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2010 May: poisoned red kite (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Nr Noranside’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2010 September: poisoned buzzard (Chloralose). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2010 October: poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2010 October: poisoned pigeon bait (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2010 October: poisoned pigeon bait (Carbofuran). Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2012 April: Remains of buzzard found beside pheasant pen. Listed as ‘Nr Noranside’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

2014 June: shot buzzard. Listed as ‘Glenogil’ in RSPB annual report. No prosecution.

23
Feb
15

Scottish Government launches poisons disposal scheme

PoisonThe Scottish Government has today launched it’s promised ‘pesticides disposal scheme’ – a free service allowing those who are still in possession of these banned substances an opportunity to get rid of them without fear of consequence.

This scheme was initiated by former Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse whilst he was still in office.

We have mixed views about the scheme.

On the one hand, it’s a proactive approach to rid Scotland of highly toxic substances that are still being used, illegally, with devastating effect on some of our raptor species, notably golden eagles, red kites, peregrines and buzzards. Only yesterday we blogged about the latest victim  -a poisoned peregrine found on a grouse moor (see here).

On the other hand, many of these poisons have been banned for years, and even being in possession of them has been an offence since 2005 (Possession of Pesticides (Scotland) Order 2005), so why, ten years later, are the criminals who are still in possession of these poisons being given yet another opportunity to escape justice?

The bigger concern of these two views undoubtedly has to be that these poisons need to be removed, and that concern outweighs the lesser concern that the criminals won’t be punished, so from that perspective we welcome the new scheme.

However, what we want (expect) to see as a result of the scheme is that anybody caught with these poisons after the scheme has ended MUST be given a more serious sentence for their crime. We fully expect that even after this scheme has ended, there will still be substantial amounts of these poisons being held illegally. Why? Because the criminals who hold and use these poisons have been doing so for a long, long time, despite the legislation and despite previous amnesties, because they know there’s a good chance that they’ll get away with it. And for those who do get caught, the penalty is usually so ineffectual that the risk was worth taking anyway. Those people, when caught, must feel the full force of the law and not some pathetic fine or community service order – nothing less than a mandatory custodial sentence will do.

It’s not clear for how long the free disposal scheme will run, other than a quote from the current Environment Minister, Dr Aileen McLeod, that the scheme will be “short-lived”.

Those wishing to dispose of their banned poisons via this scheme can do so without fear of prosecution, and without their personal details being given to the authorities. The Government will be collecting data about the uptake of the scheme, but these data will be limited to the type and number of poisons handed in, the cost of the scheme, and only the first three letters of the postcode from where the poisons have been collected.

As this is a free and confidential service, there is absolutely NO EXCUSE WHATSOEVER for anyone to still be in possession of these poisons by the time the scheme ends. Mind you, it’s been that way for the past decade and yet….

Scottish Government press release here

Details about how to use the free disposal service here

Frequently Asked Questions about the scheme here

A list of the poisons that will be accepted by the scheme and a description of what they look like and some common generic names here




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