Posts Tagged ‘carbofuran


Kitten dies from Carbofuran poisoning in Midlothian

Cat poisoned Midlothian Dec 2014 Bootes - CopyAn eight-month old kitten has died after ingesting the banned poison Carbofuran.

The cat, Bootes, was found alive but fitting by the owner of Edgelaw Farm Livery near Gorebridge, Midlothian. Bootes died shortly afterwards.

Toxicology results identified Carbofuran and the SSPCA is now warning the public that this highly toxic poison is in use in the area (even though it’s been banned for 14 years and even possessing it constitutes an offence).

Carbofuran is, of course, the gamekeepers’ ‘poison of choice’ – you only need a small amount, it’s fast acting and it’s deadly. It’s the most commonly-used poison in illegal raptor persecution cases in Scotland and has been for some years.

Nobody will be at all surprised to learn that pheasant shooting is popular in the area where Bootes was poisoned.

Full article on SSPCA website here


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


Poisoned peregrine found on Scottish grouse moor

A poisoned peregrine has been found on a grouse moor in Stirlingshire, resulting in a police raid last Friday (20th Feb).

Incredibly, Police Scotland issued a press statement immediately after the raid. The speed of this publicity and their willingness to inform the public about this crime is warmly welcomed.

Here’s what the press release said:

Today Police Scotland executed search warrants on a shooting estate in the Stirling area after a Peregrine Falcon was found to have been poisoned by the banned pesticide Carbofuran.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said:

“In July 2014, a member of the public contacted police to report a dead Red Kite on the same estate. Subsequent investigation revealed this bird was also poisoned with the same banned pesticide. There was no release of information to the general public at this time for operational reasons”.

“It is evident that an ongoing and intentional effort to poison wildlife is occurring at this location and we will be working closely with the relevant partners and using all investigative techniques at our disposal to identify the offender(s) and bring them to justice”.

“We would appeal to anyone who has knowledge of these incidents, or this type of criminality, to contact us and give any information that would assist us. We all have a duty to protect the environment and it is imperative these criminals are caught”.

“Information can be given by contacting 101 or by calling crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Information will be treated in the strictest confidence if required”.


All quite interesting, especially as they have now revealed this poisoned peregrine was found on the same estate where a poisoned red kite was found dead last July. We blogged about that kite here and here, as we wondered why Police Scotland hadn’t publicised this crime and why SNH hadn’t yet enforced a General Licence restriction on this estate. With the discovery of this latest poisoning victim, we’ll be looking closely to see if, and how quickly, SNH now responds.

Peregrine photo: Martin Eager


Red kite poisoned in Central Scotland – police decide not to publicise

rk by David TomlinsonPolice Scotland has failed to publicise the illegal poisoning of a red kite which was found dead in central Scotland last July. That’s July 2014 – six months ago!

The only reason this crime has come to our attention is because it is included in the recently-updated quarterly reports by SASA – the Government agency whose job is to analyse carcasses for poisons.

This kite was killed by ingesting the banned pesticide Carbofuran. There are no other details, other than the carcass was recovered in central Scotland and the case is subject to an on-going police investigation.

Why didn’t Police Scotland issue a press statement? Sure, they might have chosen to delay it for a few weeks for operational purposes, e.g. if they were planning a raid on the premises then they wouldn’t want to alert the potential suspects in advance. But six months on and still silent? That’s pathetic.

It’s this kind of cover-up that plays directly into the hands of those who seek to diminish the extent of raptor persecution. If the public is unaware that these crimes are continuing, they’ll be more likely to believe the lies of certain organisations who keep saying that raptor persecution crimes are occurring with less frequency, and that landowners and gamekeepers have cleaned up their acts. If the public believes that, they are less likely to join in calls for greater enforcement/tougher penalties etc. If MSPs don’t hear about this issue from their constituents, they’ll be less likely to push forward any legislative changes. The end result? The raptor-killing will continue with impunity and the raptor-killing criminals will continue to escape justice.

Police Scotland’s silence does absolutely nothing to inspire public confidence in their ability and willingness to tackle wildlife crime. Perhaps they did investigate and perhaps they’ve charged someone who is now awaiting prosecution. Perhaps they did investigate but didn’t find any evidence to link the crime to an individual. Perhaps they did nothing and the file is gathering dust on someone’s desk. Whatever response they did or didn’t make, given the high level of public interest in these crimes and, in this case especially, the dangerously-high toxicity of the poison (fatal to humans), they should have publicised this incident months ago.

We are also interested in whether any General Licence restrictions have been imposed on the land where the kite was found poisoned. We don’t know whether this land is used for game-shooting but we’d make an educated guess that it is, especially given the type of poison involved – Carbofuran is still the gamekeepers’ ‘poison of choice’.

If you remember, SNH now has the power to restrict the use of General Licences, based on a civil burden of proof (i.e. so not reliant on a criminal conviction) ‘where there is evidence to suggest that a wild bird or birds have been either killed, injured or taken or where there has been an attempt to do so other than in accordance with a licence, or where General Licences are being misused‘ [this is a direct quote from the SNH 2015 General Licences].

This new measure was rolled out in October 2014 (see here) and can be back-dated to any offences that have occurred since 1st January 2014.

During the Scottish Parliament’s RACCE committee hearing on 29th October 2014 (see here), Detective Chief Superintendent Robbie Allan of Police Scotland talked about the implementation of this new measure:

We have set up a structure whereby we will meet SNH on a monthly basis. At that meeting, Police Scotland will inform and notify SNH of any crimes that fit the proposed criteria. SNH will take that information and make an assessment based on it. The first meeting will take place in the first week of November [2014], and it will apply retrospectively to all offences since 1st January [2014].”

So, the first monthly meeting between Police Scotland & SNH was due to take place in early Nov 2014. That’s almost three months ago. This red kite was poisoned in July 2014. It is reasonable to expect, then, that this case has been assessed by SNH and they’ve made a decision whether or not to impose a General Licence restriction.

We just had a look on the SNH website, where it says: ‘Any decision to implement a restriction will be posted on this webpage‘ (see here). Surprise surprise, there isn’t any information about any General Licence restrictions that have been imposed. Does that mean they are not going to impose a restriction for the poisoning of this red kite? Or does it mean they haven’t yet got around to looking at it? Or something else?

Trying to get information from these enforcement bodies is like pulling teeth. Why is it so bloody difficult? Where’s all the ‘accountability’ that they’re so keen on telling us they have but the SSPCA doesn’t have?

Let’s go directly to the Director of Operations at SNH (who makes the ultimate decision on whether a restriction is imposed) and ask him what’s going on with this case and specifically, whether a General Licence restriction has been imposed and if not, why not? Emails to Andrew Bachell:

Red kite photograph by David Tomlinson


Police search premises in another poisoning blackspot in Northern Ireland

Peregrine Steve WaterhouseA few days ago we blogged about a multi-agency raid on premises in the Drumbanagher area of Co Armagh, a notorious buzzard-poisoning blackspot (see here).

It looks like the PSNI is taking raptor persecution very seriously, because on the same day, another search in another poisoning blackspot was also carried out, this time in Co Derry.

The team went to targeted locations in the Magherafelt area where a number of raptor persecution incidents are reported to have taken place, including the Carbofuran-poisoning of a peregrine last July (see here).

Great to see a coordinated, proactive response from the police and partner agencies, and how refreshing to see this response publicised.

Details on the Co Derry search here.

Peregrine photo by Steve Waterhouse


Police search notorious raptor poisoning blackspot

Drumbanagher NI police search Jan 2015Police in Northern Ireland last week joined forces with officers from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the Health & Safety Executive (NI) to conduct a search of premises in one of the region’s most notorious raptor- poisoning blackspots.

The search focused on premises in the Drumbanagher area of Co. Armagh following the discovery of a Carbofuran-poisoned buzzard last October. The Drumbanagher/Poyntzpass area is known for its commercial game-shooting interests.

A dead cat was found during the search and has been sent for analysis.

We’ve blogged about this location before. Here’s the list of known (to us) victims:

2006: 1 x poisoned buzzard (type of poison unknown).

2008: 4 x poisoned buzzards (Alphachloralose).

2009: 2 x poisoned red kites (Alphachloralose). One bird survived, the other one didn’t.

2011: 1 x dead buzzard found under a hedge. Too decomposed for analysis.

2011: 3 x dead buzzards, suspected poisoning, but carcasses removed before police attendance. 1 x poisoned magpie (Alphachloralose).

2012: Another poisoned buzzard (Alphachloralose), reportedly the ’36th dead buzzard’ found in this area.

2014: 1 x poisoned buzzard (Carbofuran).

Our previous blogs on this area here and here.

Article on last week’s police search from Farming Life here


Subsidy penalty for convicted vicarious liability landowner

cash pileLast month we blogged about the Scottish landowner who was the first to be convicted under the new vicarious liability legislation which came in to force on 1st January 2012.

Ninian Robert Hathorn Johnston Stewart of the Physgill & Glasserton Estates was found guilty of being vicariously liable for the actions of his gamekeeper, Peter Finley Bell, who had laid out a poisoned bait which killed a buzzard. Bell was also found to be in possession of three banned poisons (see here).

The landowner’s conviction was met with mixed feelings. Many of us were pleased to see a successful prosecution in what was a landmark case, but there was widespread disappointment in the derisory fine of just £675.

A number of blog commentators asked whether the landowner would also be hit by a Single Farm Payment penalty for cross compliance breaches. We weren’t able to answer that at the time, although we knew that the use of a banned poison to kill a protected wild bird would certainly merit a penalty.

Well, it turns out that Mr Johnston Stewart was indeed hit with a subsidy penalty. According to his defence agent (David McKie),

He [Johnston Stewart] had already been penalised substantially via a high five-figure deduction to his single farm payment“.

We don’t know what that “high five-figure deduction” was (presumably somewhere between £10,000 – £99,999), nor do we know how it was calculated, nor what percentage it was of his annual subsidy payment. Nevertheless, it’s good to hear that a penalty was imposed so well done to SGRPID (Scottish Government, Rural Payments & Inspections Directorate) for being on the ball.

Wouldn’t it be good if this sort of detail was easily available in the public domain? We’d like to know how these public subsidies are being distributed (or revoked) and it surely has a deterrent value for other landowners who might just be persuaded to take a closer look at what their gamekeepers are up to. A section on this in the Scottish Government’s annual wildlife crime report wouldn’t go amiss….

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