Posts Tagged ‘buzzard

23
Sep
20

Large police operation investigating raptor persecution near proposed release site for hen harriers

Press release from Wiltshire Police (23 September 2020)

One arrest made after operation into bird of prey persecution in Wiltshire

A teenager has been arrested today following two warrants executed in East Wiltshire.

Led by the Wiltshire Rural Crime Team but supported by local officers, officers from Hampshire Constabulary, South West Forensics, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the National Wildlife Crime Unit, Natural England and the Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, warrants were executed at locations in the Pewsey and Beckhampton areas.

A 19-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of raptor persecution under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Firearms were seized as part of ongoing enquiries, and the carcasses of a number of birds of prey, including red kites and buzzards, were located at the location in Beckhampton.

PC Marc Jackson, Wiltshire Police Rural Crime Team, said: “Following an extensive search of both locations, we have recovered the remains of a number of birds of prey, including red kites and buzzards.

The recovery of these remains presented a number of complex challenges and we are grateful for the support from other agencies.

Our enquiries continue into how these birds were killed and disposed of. If anybody has any information that they think could support our investigation, please contact us on 101.”

Inspector Liz Coles, Tactical Lead for Rural Crime in Wiltshire, said: “Today’s warrant shows that we take all aspects of rural crime seriously and we will proactively work with partners to protect wildlife and our rural communities.

“Last week saw the introduction of the new dedicated rural crime officers to the team, and this is a prime example of how they will help us moving forward.

“We continue to develop more intelligence-led policing in relation to prevention, detecting criminal activity and proactive operations“.

Wiltshire Police are part of the national initiative called Operation Owl. The initiative sets out to raise awareness of raptor persecution, encouraging the public to be vigilant for signs of this criminal activity, and to report suspicious activity to the police.

ENDS

Well now this doesn’t look good for Natural England’s ridiculous project to ‘reintroduce’ hen harriers to southern England, does it? And after all that work they’ve done trying to convince potential donor countries that raptor persecution is no longer an issue in southern England (e.g. see here and here).

[RPUK map showing proximity of Natural England’s ludicrous hen harrier reintroduction site to the area where a large police investigation in to raptor persecution is underway]

21
Sep
20

Police appeal for information following reports of raptor persecution in Dorset

Press release from Dorset Police (21 September 2020)

Appeal for information following reports of raptor persecution in North and East Dorset

Dorset Police has been working alongside Natural England and the RSPB following two raptor persecution incidents in North and East Dorset.

Raptor persecution – which is one of the UK wildlife crime priorities and involves birds of prey – includes poisoning, shooting, trapping, habitat destruction and nest destruction or disturbance.

The laying of poisoned bait is illegal. All birds are protected by law in the UK, with the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 being the primary legislation protecting the wildlife and their environment.

In April 2020 it was reported that several buzzards were found dead within close proximity to each other in the Ashmore Wood area near Blandford. These birds were sent for testing and enquiries remain ongoing.

The birds were found near to public access routes on land owned by more than one landowner.

In August 2020 officers received a report from an animal rescue centre that a number of dead and sick animals from the Verwood area were bought in to them. The animals included buzzards, an owl and a rabbit. These animals were all sent for testing.

Two of the buzzards involved in the Verwood incident survived and have been tended back to health by staff at the rescue centre.

[Photos via Dorset Police]


Police Constable Rob Hammond, of North Dorset police, said: “It is very concerning to see these harrowing incidents occurring in our area and an investigation is underway into each of the reports.

I would like to warn members of the public that this poison could be harmful to anything or anyone that comes into contact with it.

There is a real danger that persecution can affect any kind of bird. More common species such as kites, which have recently returned to our area and are making good progress, and buzzards can come to harm. Tragically it will also have an impact on rarer birds of prey such as ospreys, which have recently been reintroduced to the Poole harbour area and roam for miles, and hen harriers, which are almost extinct in this country.

Always be careful if you see a dead bird of prey or a group of them together – do not touch them, especially if it can be clearly seen that they have white or blue matter in any open wound.”

If you come across a dead raptor, or group of dead raptors, please report this to Dorset Police by taking a photograph and marking the location of the incident using a grid reference or an app, such as What3words. Please also report this to the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) hotline on 0800 321600.

The RSPB can be contacted for advice or information, but the matter must be reported to Dorset Police and the WIIS for an investigation to be carried out.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police at http://www.dorset.police.uk, via email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55200052754 for the Ashmore Wood incident and 55200131382 for the Verwood incident. Alternatively, to stay 100 per cent anonymous, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers online at Crimestoppers-uk.org or call Freephone 0800 555 111.

ENDS

11
Sep
20

Shot buzzard in Essex: an update

Last week we learned that Essex Police were investigating the shooting of a buzzard found on 4th September 2020 at Davy Down Riverside Park, South Ockendon (see here).

We’ve now been sent photos of the dead bird and an incident number has been issued: 42/141700/20

[Shot buzzard, photos via Essex Police]

There still isn’t any information about the type of weapon used to shoot this buzzard but we do know, judging by the maggots in the second photo, that it was shot well before the discovery of the corpse on the 4th September.

Anyone with information please contact PC Jed Raven from Essex Police Wildlife Crime Unit on 101 and quote reference: 42/141700/20

This is the third bird of prey shooting in Essex in recent months, following a shot buzzard found near Weeley on 2nd June (here) and a shot hobby found at North Fambridge in August (here).

07
Sep
20

Police investigate shot buzzard remains found on Wirral pheasant shooting estate

The discovery of the remains of a buzzard have led to a joint investigation into alleged raptor persecution and other wildlife offences on a game-shooting estate on the Wirral.

The decomposed corpse was discovered next to a hunting tower on the estate in July 2020, according to a social media posting by a group called ‘Cheshire Against Blood Sports’. The buzzard’s decapitated head and legs were found close by. An x-ray at the RSPCA’s Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre reportedly found the body was ‘peppered with shot’. It’s not known how old the corpse was but it’s clear from the photographs that decomposition was quite advanced.

[All photos from Cheshire Against Blood Sports]

Other allegations made by the group include ‘unchecked Larsen traps & decoy birds found dead in the trap’. The group has also posted photographs of what looks to be a clam trap with the decomposed remains of something in it, an uncovered Fenn trap (although the circumstances of its use are unclear) and a large stink pit containing the rotting corpses of wildlife.

The group reports that the joint Merseyside Police/RSPCA investigation concluded with a visit to the estate in late August where words of advice have apparently been given. There are not thought to be any impending prosecutions.

It’s believed the pheasant, partridge and duck shooting on the estate is leased to a third party.

[All photos from Cheshire Against Blood Sports]

This article was re-published on the Birdguides website on 13th September 2020.

06
Sep
20

Another buzzard shot in Essex

Essex Police are investigating the shooting of a buzzard on 4th September 2020 at Davy Down Riverside Park, South Ockendon.

[Buzzard. Photo by Ruth Tingay]

PC Jed Raven from Essex Police’s Wildlife Crime Unit has confirmed the buzzard was shot, however its condition is unknown and the type of weapon used is yet to be reported.

[UPDATE 7 Sept 2020: Police have confirmed the buzzard died]

Anyone with information please contact PC Jed Raven on 101.

UPDATE 11 Sept 2020: Shot buzzard in Essex: an update (here)

This is the third bird of prey shooting in Essex in recent months, following a shot buzzard found near Weeley on 2nd June (here) and a shot hobby found at North Fambridge in August (here).

 

21
Aug
20

Local resident puts up £5,000 reward to find Nidderdale poisoner

In April, during lockdown, two dogs became violently ill on a dog walk near Pateley Bridge in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire.

One of them survived but sadly the other one (Molly) did not.

[Molly, photo by Chloe Ambler]

In August, North Yorkshire Police confirmed (here) that Molly had died after ingesting what has widely become known as the ‘Nidderdale Cocktail’ – a lethal combination of four pesticides (Bendiocarb, Chloralose, Isophenphos and Carbofuran) that has been identified in a number of raptor persecution poisoning crimes in the area.

The police investigation has included conducting high profile raids at several Nidderdale addresses, accompanied by poisons experts from Natural England and persecution experts from RSPB (see here). The police have also issued a warning notice (here) for local residents to take extra care, one in a long line of warnings given Nidderdale’s notorious reputation as a red kite poisoning hotspot (see here).

[Photo by Ruth Tingay]

A local resident has now stepped forward to offer a £5,000 reward for information leading to the poisoner(s). Keith Tordoff, who owns the sweet shop in Pateley Bridge, told BBC news:

It affects tourism. It affects business. Everybody’s affected by this stain on the reputation of Nidderdale and we’ve got to get the message across to these people, this has got to stop.”

You might recognise Keith’s name. It’s not the first time he’s put up a reward for information to help catch the raptor killers and he featured in a recent Channel 4 News documentary about raptor persecution on grouse moors in North Yorkshire, where he told the presenter he’d faced a backlash for speaking out, including having eggs thrown at his windows and receiving anonymous threatening letters (here).

Molly’s owner, Chloe Ambler, wants the poisoner(s) to be held to account. She told the BBC:

“[It’s] absolutely devastating. You feel like you’ve been robbed.

I need someone to be held responsible because at the end of the day we’ve lost amazing Molly.

It’s been so awful for us and I don’t see why people should get away with that.”

Howard Jones, an investigations officer at RSPB, said:

It is absolutely dreadful and this underlines what is the completely irresponsible nature of placing poison out into the countryside.

These people are doing it and know it’s illegal but they don’t care.”

TAKE ACTION

If you’re sick to the back teeth of illegal raptor persecution on driven grouse moors, please consider participating in this quick and easy e-action to send a letter to your local Parliamentary representative (MSP/MP/MS) urging action. Launched on Hen Harrier Day by Wild Justice, RSPB and Hen Harrier Action, over 58,000 people have signed up so far.

This means that over 58,000 pre-written letters complaining about illegal raptor persecution and the environmental damage caused by intensive grouse moor management, are winging their way to politicians of all parties across the UK. If you want your local politician to receive one, Please join in HERE

Thank you

03
Aug
20

Buzzard & kestrel confirmed illegally poisoned in Derbyshire

In March 2020, just after the start of lockdown, Derbyshire Constabulary reported the suspected poisoning of a kestrel and a buzzard, both found dead next to the remains of a pigeon at Ault Hucknall near Chesterfield (see here).

[Photo via Derbyshire Constabulary]

Samples were sent for toxicology analysis and last week the police received the findings. Both birds had been illegally poisoned with the banned pesticide Aldicarb.

This news was published on the Rural Crime Team’s Facebook page (see below). We haven’t been able to find any further news reports, for e.g. on the Derbyshire Constabulary website or in the local press.

These latest illegal poisonings are not the first in this area. A total of six buzzards were also illegally poisoned in neighbouring Glapwell between 2015-2016 (2 x buzzards, March 2015; 1 x buzzard & pheasant bait, February 2016; 3 x buzzards & pheasant bait, March 2016). Alphachloralose was the poison used in those cases.

[Some of the poisoned buzzards and a pheasant bait found at Glapwell in 2016, photos via RSPB]

There is a record of those poisonings in the RSPB’s 2016 BirdCrime report (here) and a short video, here:

It is quite clear that somebody in this area has access to banned poisons and is not afraid to set out poisonous baits that could kill anyone unfortunate to come in to contact with them, let alone wildlife and domestic animals and pets.

Let’s hope we see a continued publicity drive from Derbyshire Constabulary – these crimes warrant maximum awareness and exposure.

02
Aug
20

Publicity campaign to find buzzard poisoner

In May 2020 news emerged that 23 buzzards had been killed in a single incident in Co Cork after ingesting the banned pesticide Carbofuran (see here).

[The corpses of several buzzards found poisoned by Carbofuran in Co Cork in another incident, this time in 2018. See here for details. Photo by NPWS]

As if that news wasn’t shocking enough, it also emerged that the mass poisoning had been discovered in December 2019 and was ‘investigated’ by the National Parks and Wildlife Service but it was only publicised five months later once BirdWatch Ireland and the Irish Raptor Study Group had found out about it.

This poisoning incident and the apparent silence of the investigating authorities led to questions in the Irish Parliament (see here) and calls for the establishment of a special police unit to focus on tackling wildlife crime (here).

Meanwhile, an animal welfare charity ‘The Amica Projects’ has put up a reward of 5,000 Euros for information leading to a prosecution and has placed a full page advert in the Southern Star newspaper appealing for whistle blowers to get in touch:

01
Aug
20

Dog poisoning confirmed in Nidderdale raptor persecution hotspot

In April during lockdown, two pet dogs became ill during a walk in Pateley Bridge in Nidderdale. One of them (Molly) subsequently died and the vet suspected poisoning.

[Molly (left) and Poppy, photo via North Yorkshire Police]

Samples were submitted for toxicology, although analysis was delayed due to Covid19. Meanwhile, North Yorkshire Police issued a warning notice (here) for local residents to take extra care, especially as illegal poisoned baits had been used in the area many times before, killing birds of prey, especially red kites (here).

Just a couple of weeks ago North Yorkshire Police, along with poisons experts from Natural England and persecution experts from RSPB, conducted high profile raids at several Nidderdale addresses as they continue to investigate ongoing poisoning crimes (see here).

The toxicology results confirmed that Molly had died after ingesting what has widely become known as the ‘Nidderdale Cocktail’ – a lethal combination of four pesticides (Bendiocarb, Chloralose, Isophenphos and Carbofuran) that has been identified in a number of raptor persecution poisoning crimes.

It’s interesting to note that this particular ‘cocktail’ isn’t restricted to use in Nidderdale; it has also been used on several estates elsewhere in England and Scotland. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to see whether there was a common link between these various estates, you know, something like a shared agent or perhaps a gamekeeper who’s worked on all the estates?

On Wednesday, North Yorkshire Police issued the following press release seeking more information about the poisoning of Molly:

Police appeal for information after dog dies from suspected pesticide abuse

Properties searched as investigation into poisoning continues

North Yorkshire Police is appealing for information as part of an ongoing investigation into the poisoning of two pet dogs, believed to be as a result of pesticide abuse.

On 23 April 2020, two spaniel dogs fell seriously ill immediately after a walk, with their owner, in the countryside near Pateley Bridge. The dogs were rushed to the vets and whilst one of the two recovered, the second was so severely ill that she did not survive.

The incident was reported to the police and local area searches conducted, as a well as a warning put out to other dog owners. Samples taken from the dog which died were submitted to the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) administered by Natural England and the results showed the presence of four pesticides. The dog had a significant quantity of Bendiocarb in its system, along with smaller quantities of Chloralose, Isofenphos and Carbofuran. The tests concluded that exposure to these pesticides most likely caused this dog’s death and the severe symptoms suffered by the second dog.

The same combination of four poisons have been found to cause the deaths of two red kites and a buzzard in Nidderdale since 2016, with other cases of poisoned birds of prey in the area also involving one or more of the chemicals involved.

North Yorkshire Police Inspector, Matt Hagen, explains:

The fact we have seen this same combination of chemicals, the ‘Nidderdale cocktail’ as it is sometimes known, also cause the death of birds of prey in this same location would indicate that the poisons have been deliberately left in a place where they could be found by wildlife and unfortunately in this case, domestic pets.

Pesticide abuse of any kind will not be tolerated and we are doing everything we can to try and find those responsible.”

Following receipt of the test results and acting on local intelligence North Yorkshire Police conducted searches at a number of properties in the area with assistance from Natural England and the RSPB.  Unfortunately none of these searches resulted in any further evidence as to how these poisons reached the two dogs or who may have been responsible for this suspected pesticide abuse so officers are now appealing for information from the public.

Mark Thomas, Head of Investigations at the RSPB, said:

Nidderdale is surrounded by grouse moors and sadly we know from experience, and from the government’s own data, that there is a strong correlation between raptor persecution and driven grouse shooting. Carbofuran is one of the most commonly-abused substances in the poisoning of birds of prey. It is a highly toxic, banned substance, putting wildlife, pets and people at risk. This is not the first time harmful substances have been found left out in the open and sadly it unlikely to be the last. This reckless and irresponsible behaviour, which had led to the death of a beloved family pet, cannot be allowed to continue.”

Whilst Chloralose is licenced for use in England in a low concentration as a rodenticide, Bendiocarb, Isofenphos and Carbofuran are all banned from use in the UK. None of these chemicals should ever be used in an environment where domestic animals and/or wildlife should come into contact with them.

Anyone misusing or abusing pesticides may be committing a variety of offences. If you come across an object, often an animal carcass, which you believe may be contaminated with a pesticide or other poisons, do not touch it. Take as many photos and details as you can and report this to the police as soon as possible.

Dog owners worried by this incident should take care to keep their dogs on a lead or within sight and under control at all times when taking them for a walk. Dogs should only be walked on public rights of way or other land where the owner has permission to be.

Anyone with any information which could help the police in this investigation should call 101, quoting reference: 12200068444 or if you wish to remain anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

ENDS

The RSPB also published a blog about this case, which includes comments from Molly’s owners (see here).

There’s also good coverage in the Yorkshire Post (here).

27
Jul
20

More birds of prey illegally killed in & around Peak District National Park

As conservationists continue to express concern for the safety of the visiting Bearded Vulture in the Peak District National Park (e.g. see here), the RSPB has published a blog detailing more cases of confirmed and suspected illegal raptor persecution that have been recorded in the area since the beginning of lockdown.

[This shot buzzard had to be euthanized due to the extent of its injuries. Photo by Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group]

The RSPB’s updated list includes the following, some of which have already featured on this blog and some which haven’t previously been publicised:

NEW: In the north of the National Park, the remains of a short-eared owl, an amber-listed species, were found on a grouse moor near Glossop on 7 May. A post-mortem recently concluded that shooting had been the cause of death. No leads were forthcoming from police enquiries.

NEW: Near Agden Reservoir, an area dominated by driven grouse moors, four raven chicks were found dead in a nest also on 11 May. The parent birds had been seen bringing food to the young, then vanished without explanation. The chicks were almost at the point of fledging, and the RSPB say the adults were exceptionally unlikely abandon the nest at that stage. The incident is being investigated by South Yorkshire Police.

NEW: Test results are awaited in connection with an adult peregrine found dead in the Upper Derwent Valley.

NEW: In the south, just outside the National Park an eyewitness reported seeing two buzzards being shot near Ashbourne on 1 April 2020. A member of the public was watching the two birds circling a wood, on land managed for pheasant shooting, when he heard a shot and saw the birds fall. There’s no comment about a police investigation.

PREVIOUSLY REPORTED: On 11 May, a buzzard was found mortally wounded on land managed for gamebird shooting near Diggle. It was found alive but with terrible injuries and sadly had to be euthanized. An x-ray revealed six pieces of shot lodged in the bird’s body. [This crime has previously been blogged about here]

PREVIOUSLY REPORTED: In the south of the Park, a buzzard and two peregrines are being tested for poison after being found dead in Staffordshire. [These incidents have previously been blogged about here]

PREVIOUSLY REPORTED: In mid-June, Derbyshire Police issued an appeal for information after three peregrine nests were robbed of their eggs, all within the National Park. The RSPB alerted the police about one of the incidents. [These incidents have previously been blogged about here]

PREVIOUSLY REPORTED: A dead kestrel and a buzzard have also gone for poison testing: they were found near Glapwell, where several buzzards were found poisoned in 2016. [These incidents have previously been blogged about here] – see UPDATE at foot of blog.

To read the RSPB blog in full please click here

The RSPB’s Head of Investigations, Mark Thomas, was also on BBC Radio Derby a few days ago talking about the ongoing killing of birds of prey in the Peak District National Park. Available here (starts 3hrs 16) for 24 days.

UPDATE 3rd August 2020: Buzzard and kestrel confirmed illegally poisoned in Derbyshire (here)




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