Posts Tagged ‘poisoning

18
Jan
21

Police investigate illegal poisoning of a buzzard in Suffolk – guns & pesticides seized

News is emerging of a multi-agency investigation today following the discovery of an illegally poisoned buzzard near Lakenheath in Suffolk.

Suffolk Police, Natural England and the RSPB Investigations Team attended and a number of guns and pesticides were seized. This is excellent partnership working and what a response!

The investigation continues and hopefully charges will be forthcoming.

[Photo from Suffolk Police]

16
Dec
20

Poisoned red kite found on Scottish grouse moor

Press release from Police Scotland (16th December 2020)

Appeal for information – poisoned bird of prey – Ruthven, Moy

Police Scotland has confirmed that a red kite found dead in the Ruthven area in October, had been poisoned with a banned pesticide.

[A poisoned red kite, photo by Marc Ruddock. NB: Not the poisoned red kite in this particular incident]

Further searches were carried out yesterday (15 December) with partner agency RSPB on hill ground near Meall a’ Bhreacraibh and Ruthven, Moy, in the northern Monadliath mountains.

No further poisoned raprtors or animals were identified.

Police Constable Daniel Sutherland, Highlands and Islands Wildlife crime Liaison officer, said:

Traces of a banned pesticide have been detected in a Red kite found in the area. This incident is sadly another example of where a bird of prey has been killed through ingestion of an illegally held poison.

I strongly urge anyone within the local and wider community to come forward with details on any information about this incident.”

Following consultation with the Scottish Government Rural Payments Directorate and the Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA), Police Scotland requests members of the public and any dog walkers to be cautious when walking in the surrounding area and the immediate vicinity. 

Anybody who has information about this incident, banned pesticide possession or misuse, or other information relating to raptor persecution please contact Police Scotland on 101 or pass on information anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

ENDS

This is a very good response from Police Scotland – a press release out the day after the police search and a clear warning to the public to be cautious in this area, especially if walking with dogs. The name of the banned poison isn’t given, probably for investigative purposes, but by telling the public it’s a banned poison we know it’s one of eight highly toxic pesticides (or perhaps a combination) listed on the Possession of Pesticides (Scotland) Order 2005, which are Aldicarb, Alphachloralose, Aluminium phosphide,  Bendiocarb, Carbofuran, Mevinphos, Sodium cyanide and Strychnine.

Now, about the location. According to Andy Wightman’s excellent Who Owns Scotland website, the area of land mentioned in the police press release is part of the Moy Estate in the northern Monadhliaths. Or at least it was when Andy compiled his data – it’s possible, of course, that there have since been boundary changes.

Regular blog readers will be familiar with the Moy area. Moy Estate was raided by police ten years ago after the discovery of poisoned bait and dead raptors and illegally set traps. A gamekeeper was later convicted of possession of a red kite after its bloodied corpse was found in the back of his vehicle. It had two broken legs and a head injury. A bloodied shinty stick was also found in the back of the vehicle.

The remains of two further red kites were discovered on the moor, including a severed red kite leg and some wing tags that had previously been fitted to a kite, all found buried in holes under some moss. A jar in one of the gamekeeper’s houses contained the leg rings of four young golden eagles – nobody could account for how they had ended up inside that jar. A live hen harrier was found caught by its leg in an illegally-set spring trap. It survived after being rescued by raptor workers.

No further charges were brought against anyone for any of the offences uncovered at Moy.

In 2016 Police Scotland issued an appeal for information following the discovery of disturbed and abandoned buzzard and goshawk nests in the Moy Forest. One goshawk and four buzzard nests were abandoned in suspicious circumstances, with some evidence of illegal disturbance. These nests were being monitored by staff from Forestry Enterprise Scotland. No charges were brought.

For previous blogs on Moy see here.

I would imagine, after this latest discovery, that Ministers in the Scottish Government who recently decided to press on with the introduction of a licensing scheme for grouse shooting estates, despite cries of ‘It’s unnecessary regulation!‘ and ‘It’s all so unfair!‘ from the shooting industry, can today feel vindicated that their decision was the right one.

They now need to get on with it and get it implemented ASAP, because this latest victim is evidence that raptor persecution continues, despite all the denials routinely chuntered out by the so-called leaders in the game shooting industry.

UPDATE 17 December 2020: Poisoned red kite found dead on Scottish grouse moor – an interesting police investigation (here)

07
Dec
20

Grouse moors – ‘a birdwatchers’ paradise’ according to Chair of Scottish Gamekeepers Association

Don’t laugh.

Actually, do laugh.

Alex Hogg, Chair of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, was interviewed last week and he said some pretty baffling things about gamekeeping and grouse moor management, including the fantastic statement, “This is a birdwatchers’ paradise“.

Yep, he really did.

[An illegally poisoned white-tailed eagle, found dead on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park earlier this year – see here and here. What a birdwatchers’ paradise!]

Alex was talking to a presenter on ITV’s regional news programme Representing Border on 2nd December 2020. The programme featured a piece on the Scottish Government’s recent decision to introduce a licensing scheme for driven grouse shooting (here) and it’s well worth five minutes of your time.

The programme is available here (starts at 15.49 mins, ends 22.01).

There was more baffling commentary from Alex, including this unfathomable statement on the effect a licensing scheme would have on gamekeeping:

We’ve done it for 200 years, we’ve kept a balance in the wildlife, and if we, it’s like a three-legged stool, if they take the leg away, we’re gone“.

Eh? I’ve no idea what ‘the leg’ is that he thinks is being ‘taken away’ and why he thinks a licensing scheme means gamekeepers will be ‘gone’. They’ll be gone if they breach the conditions of the licence (assuming it’s effectively enforced) but if they’re not doing anything illegal why would a licence cause them difficulties?

Unfortunately the presenter didn’t follow up on this, or if he did it was edited out. It’s also a shame he didn’t pick up on Alex’s statement about 200 years worth of ‘balancing the wildlife’ and ask him questions about why several species of raptors became extirpated from the UK about 100 years ago? And although some have made a brilliant comeback (with some help), why some populations are still struggling, notably in areas managed for driven grouse shooting? He could also have asked this question of Liz Smith MSP (Scottish Conservatives) who said she didn’t think that “fairly draconian” licensing was needed now!

Other interviewees were much more lucid, including Ian Thomson (RSPB Investigations, Scotland), Claudia Beamish MSP (Scottish Labour) and Mairi Gougeon (Environment Minister), who gave a robust argument for bringing in a licensing scheme now instead of sitting around for another five years doing nothing, including this statement:

There are still persistent problems out there with the illegal persecution of our birds of prey“.

It’s good to see this statement from a Scottish Minister. Can you imagine a similar comment from a Minister at Westminster?

25
Nov
20

Yet another red kite found poisoned in North Yorkshire

Yet another raptor persecution case from North Yorkshire, and yet another crime committed as part of a reported ‘surge’ of similar crimes recorded during the first period of lockdown (e.g. see here and here).

This time it’s a red kite that was found dying in April 2020 at Scampston, near Malton, to the south of the North York Moors National Park.

[Photos via Jean Thorpe]

Her corpse was sent for toxicology at the Government’s Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) and the results have apparently just been released (presumably delayed due to Covid19).

She was poisoned by a mix of Brodifacoum and Bendiocarb ‘in quantities that would not be consistent with an accidental incident’, writes Jean Thorpe from Ryedale Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.

Anybody with information about this crime please contact Police Wildlife Crime Officer Jez Walmsley at Malton Police Station (Tel: 101) and quote incident reference #12200055801.

18
Nov
20

Werritty review – one year on & still waiting for Scottish Government response

Today marks one year since the Werritty Review on grouse moor management was submitted to the Scottish Government. And still no formal response.

The review itself took two and a half years to complete after Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham announced its commission in 2017, on the back of the publication of another Government-commissioned review which showed clear evidence of deliberate and sustained illegal raptor persecution on many driven grouse moors. We’ve since seen more evidence pointing towards the inevitable fate of those birds.

And that 2017 review had been commissioned on the back of an RSPB report in 2016 that over a period of five years since 2011, eight satellite-tagged golden eagles had ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances on grouse moors in the Monadhliaths in Highland Scotland.

The longer the Scottish Government delays taking evidence-based action against those criminals in the grouse shooting industry, the more eagles (and other raptors) are going to be illegally killed. There is absolutely no question that these crimes are continuing, despite enormous scrutiny and public condemnation, as demonstrated during lockdown when the poisoned corpse of a white-tailed sea eagle was found, face down, on a grouse moor in the middle of the Cairngorms National Park. Nobody has been charged for this horrendous crime. In fact there has never been a successful prosecution for killing an eagle in Scotland.

[A police officer examines the corpse of the poisoned white-tailed eagle, found dead on a grouse moor in the Cairngorms National Park]

For years the Scottish Government has promised further action if current measures proved to be ineffective. Time and time again, after each crime has been publicised, a succession of Environment Ministers has proclaimed, ‘We will not tolerate illegal raptor persecution’ and ‘We will not hesitate to act‘ (see here for a long list of examples).

And guess what? They’re still tolerating it and they’re still hesitating to act. Why is that?

17
Nov
20

Police raid property in poisoned peregrine investigation

At the end of October 2020, South Yorkshire Police published an appeal for information in relation to an investigation into the illegal poisoning of a young peregrine that had been found in Barnsley on 4th July 2020. Toxicology tests confirmed it had been killed with the highly toxic poison, Bendiocarb (see here).

[The poisoned peregrine. Photo via South Yorkshire Police]

Today, South Yorkshire Police has raided a property, under warrant, and seized what have been described as ‘a number of suspicious items’.

Here’s the police press release:

Warrant executed in connection to poisoned bird

A warrant has today (17 November) been executed at a property in Barnsley in connection to the poisoning of a protected wild bird.

Last month officers appealed for your help in finding those responsible for poisoning a juvenile peregrine falcon in the Fish Dam area of Barnsley.

Intelligence from the public assisted officers from the Barnsley Central Neighbourhood Team, the force’s Wildlife and Rural Coordinators, Crime Scene Investigation and members of the RSPB to carry out a search of a property on Abbots Road, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

[‘Officers briefing before the warrant at Ring Farm, Cudworth’. Photo via South Yorkshire Police]

PC Fran Robbs de la Hoyde explains: “Peregrine Falcons are an important part of our local ecosystems, and are protected under The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

It is a shame that someone would wish to harm these animals in such a deliberate act. The bird is believed to have ingested bait laced with toxic substances.

This morning we executed a warrant and found a number of suspicious items. Enquiries into persons involved in the offence are ongoing.

We are committed to protecting our wildlife and will ensure that those responsible are brought before the courts.”

We are stronger with our communities help and we are always grateful for those who take the time to read, respond and share information in which they have to help officers with their enquiries.

ENDS

NB: As this is a live investigation comments won’t be published until criminal proceedings have ended.

13
Nov
20

Environment Minister acknowledges potential economic impact of wildlife crime linked to grouse shooting

It’s been another year of shocking wildlife crimes being uncovered on grouse moors in the UK, including the illegal poisoning of this iconic white-tailed eagle, found dead on a grouse moor inside the Cairngorms National Park in the spring (see here).

[The poisoned white-tailed eagle, photo by Police Scotland]

Last week, Scottish Greens MSP Alison Johnstone lodged a Parliamentary question asking what assessment the Scottish Government has made of the impact on the rural economy of wildlife crime linked to grouse moor management (see here).

Her question, and a supplementary one, were ‘answered’ by Environment Minister Mairi Gougeon during Portfolio Question Time yesterday in the Scottish Parliament.

When I say ‘answered’, I use the term loosely. A more fitting word might be ‘sidestepped’.

Here’s how it went:

It’s good that Mairi Gougeon acknowledges the potential economic damage of wildlife crime linked to grouse moor management – it’d be insane to claim that the photograph of that poisoned eagle, laying dead on a grouse moor inside the Cairngorms National Park of all bloody places, would not have an economic impact and, as the Minister pointed out, on Scotland’s international reputation.

But the question Alison asked was ‘What assessment of that economic damage has the Scottish Government undertaken?’

None, it seems.

Still, as the Government’s response to the Werritty Review is imminent, we can all look forward to “decisive action” on wildlife crime linked to grouse moor management, as Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham assured us all in August after a huge outpouring of public anger about this poisoned sea eagle (see here).

07
Nov
20

Another raptor poisoner convicted in Spain

A farmer has been convicted of laying out poisoned baits in the Sierra Magina Natural Park in Andalucía in 2016 that killed two Bearded vultures from a reintroduction programme, as well as one Cinereous vulture, a golden eagle and numerous mammals.

He’s been fined 4,500 Euros and is banned from working as a cattle rancher for three years, although this sentence is apparently being appealed.

Further details about this case, including an extensive multi-agency investigation, can be read on the Vulture Conservation Foundation website here.

[One of the poisoned Bearded vultures, photo via Vulture Conservation Foundation]

Tackling the illegal poisoning of birds of prey is taken seriously in Spain with, for example, the deployment of specialist poison detection dogs and investigators given the authority to conduct unannounced spot checks in areas of suspicion. In recent years successful prosecutions have resulted in massive fines, custodial sentences and extended hunting disqualifications for those convicted of laying poisoned baits (e.g. see herehereherehere and here).

Meanwhile, over here the illegal poisoning of birds of prey (and anything else unfortunate to consume the bait) continues without consequence. These are some of the cases reported this year alone, many during lockdown, and none of them are heading towards a prosecution:

The illegal killing of a white-tailed eagle found on a grouse moor inside the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland (here), the mass poisoning of 23 buzzards in a field in Co Cork, Ireland (here), the poisoning of four peregrines on Guernsey in the Channel Islands (here), the poisoning of a family’s pet dog, believed to have consumed a poisoned bait intended for birds of prey in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire (here), the poisoning of a buzzard found dead on a grouse moor in the North York Moors National Park (here), the poisoning of a buzzard in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire (here), the poisoning of a buzzard and a kestrel in Derbyshire (here), the poisoning of three peregrines and a buzzard in Staffordshire (here), the poisoning of a peregrine in South Yorkshire (here) and the poisoning of two peregrines in North Yorkshire (here).

There may well be further poisoning cases that haven’t yet been publicised.

06
Nov
20

Parliamentary question – economic impact of wildlife crime linked to grouse moor management

There’s been a fair bit in the press in recent days on the alleged positive impact of grouse moor management on the Scottish rural economy, following the publication of a series of new reports.

Representatives and supporters of the grouse shooting industry will, of course, tend to focus on the assumed economic benefits and rarely, if ever, will they mention the economic costs of this damaging industry.

So this is a really important parliamentary question that’s been lodged by Scottish Green’s MSP Alison Johnson:

Question S50-04745. Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party. Lodged 4/11/2020.

To ask the Scottish Government what assessment it has made of the impact on the rural economy of wildlife crime linked to grouse moor management.

Current status: Due in Chamber on 12/11/2020.

I’m not sure which Minister will be answering this question next Thursday but I look forward to the response.

Here’s a photo of a police officer examining the corpse of a white-tailed eagle, found illegally poisoned with a banned pesticide on a grouse moor inside the Cairngorms National Park earlier this year (see here). [Photo by Police Scotland]

He wasn’t the first victim and he certainly won’t be the last. Raptor persecution, whether that be poisoning, shooting or trapping, is still rampant on many Scottish (and English) grouse moors, despite it having been illegal since 1954.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Scottish Government intends to assess the economic cost of this ongoing criminality.

UPDATE 13 November 2020: Environment Minister acknowledges potential economic impact of wildlife crime linked to grouse shooting (here)

27
Oct
20

Peregrine fatally poisoned in Barnsley: South Yorkshire Police appeal for information

Press release from South Yorkshire Police (26 October 2020)

Information sought following the poisoning of a protected bird

Officers investigating reports of a bird of prey being deliberately poisoned are appealing for your help to find those responsible.

On Saturday 4 July officers found a juvenile peregrine falcon in ill health in the Fish Dam Lane area of Barnsley, the bird sadly died a short time later.

[The poisoned peregrine, photo via South Yorkshire Police]

Initial assessment of the bird indicated that it could have been poisoned. Following a forensic examination by the Wildlife Investigation Scheme it has now been confirmed that the bird had been poisoned with Bendiocarb, a highly toxic substance.

Peregrine falcons are protected under Sec1 of The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Investigating Officer PC Fran Robbs De La Hoyde said: “It is believed the poisoned peregrine falcon ingested bait laced with the poison which was deliberately set out to target the bird.

There is nothing to suggest that this bait was laid in open land.

This was a deliberate act that caused the death of a beautiful and protected bird. I am saddened by this and I am asking for your help to bring those responsible to justice.”

Tom Grose, RSPB Investigations Officer, said: “It’s always a privilege to catch a glimpse of a peregrine. The fastest birds in the world, they are highly adaptable creatures and often make their homes in urban areas these days.

Bendiocarb is one of the most commonly-abused substances for killing birds of prey and we have sadly seen it used for this purpose on many occasions. It is illegal to kill these birds, and we urge anyone with information to come forward.”

Poisons commonly used to commit a crime like this are incredibly toxic to humans and pets. Should any person locate any dead or injured birds they are strongly advised not to touch them or let pets come into contact with them.

If you have any information that can help officers please call 101 and quote crime reference number 14/104692/20.

Alternatively, you can stay completely anonymous by contacting the independent charity Crimestoppers via their website Crimestoppers-uk.org or by calling their UK Contact Centre on 0800 555 111.

SYP are committed to the investigation of serious wildlife offences, including the poisoning of birds of prey.

ENDS

UPDATE 17 November 2020: Police raid property in poisoned peregrine investigation (here)




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