Monday, 2 July 2007

Authorities investigate raptor poisoning in Yorkshire

The RSPCA is working with the RSPB, Police and DEFRA to investigate the poisoning of a Peregrine Falcon in Kirbymoorside, North Yorkshire, a species that is specially protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

The bird was found by a local farmer, panting and unable to stand up, both early symptoms of poisoning. A local volunteer from the charity Raptor Rescue rushed to the scene, but the bird died shortly afterwards.

Jean Thorpe from Raptor Rescue explained: “I managed to get it home but there was no hope for it. It became very tense and stiff before the end. Poisoning causes huge amounts of suffering.” A post-mortem found the bird to be in a good condition, with no injuries, prompting the RSPCA to urge DEFRA to send off samples for testing.

The Government’s Central Science Laboratory has now confirmed that the bird had eaten something doused with carbofuran, an agricultural pesticide banned in the UK since 2001. RSPCA inspector Geoffrey Edmond said: “This is of grave concern. Birds of prey are meat eaters, which means this poison had to have been deliberately placed on a target animal of some kind. This bird should not have died, and to die in this way was excruciating.

“This pesticide was banned for a reason, and to use it is an offence which can result in an unlimited fine. Causing the death of a Schedule 1 protected bird could result in a prison sentence of up to six months and/or a fine of up to £5,000.”

The RSPCA is concerned this may not be the only bird to have been affected. Anyone who knows anything should call 0870 5555 999.