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Shock At West Country Bird Of Prey Poisoning

Two Peregrines Found Dead At Holiday Hotspot

Devon and Cornwall Police and the RSPB are again appealing for information following confirmation this week that two peregrine falcons found dead near St Just, in West Cornwall, have been poisoned with the banned pesticide Carbofuran. The RSPB is offering a reward of £1000 for information leading to a conviction.

The birds – a male and female – were found by a member of the public at midday on 21 July having been seen alive just hours earlier hunting within their cliff-side territory.

Following the grisly discovery, Natural England‘s Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) were notified and began an investigation. The bodies were sent for analysis and it has been confirmed that both had high levels of Carbofuran, and that this had caused their deaths.

This follows the news last week that four goshawks and one buzzard found dead in Devon, in March, had similarly been poisoned with the banned pesticide Carbofuran.

Dr Elaine Gill, Natural England’s Regulation Team Leader in the South West said: “The use of illegal chemicals like Carbofuran poses a significant threat to our wildlife and environment – in this case, causing the needless death of two peregrine falcons after they ate bait laced with poison.

Peregrines receive special protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) and poisoning them is an offence, as is the possession or use of Carbofuran, which has been banned for more than a decade. We treat such incidents seriously and will continue our work with other enforcement agencies under the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme to tackle incidents like this.”PC Jack Tarr is wildlife crime officer in Cornwall. He is a keen birdwatcher who’s been involved in monitoring peregrines for 12 years. He said: >i>“That these magnificent birds should be killed in this way is truly shocking. This was a pair I’d regularly enjoyed watched myself hunting off the coast at St Just and I know they were popular with many other people who walked the cliffs there. We need to find out who did this and bring them to justice.”

Tony Whitehead, spokesperson for the RSPB in the South West said: “To have confirmed two bird of prey poisonings in as many weeks is unprecedented. We know that Devon and Cornwall have always been a persecution black spot and this year looks as though it might be one of the worst on record.

We need to stop this. Whatever drives people to do this, it’s important to understand that killing birds of prey is not only barbaric, it is also against the law. This makes the perpetrators, however they seek to justify their behavior, no more than common criminals and we’d expect them to be treated as such.”Anyone found guilty of an offence against birds of prey can be liable to a fine of up to £5000 (per offence) or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or both.

Anyone with information regarding this incident can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or telephone 101 quoting crime number AP/11/1922. Alternatively, the public can contact the RSPB on 0845 466 3636. All information will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Historically, peregrine numbers declined during the last two centuries due to illegal killing and the falcon is a frequent victim of persecution. The peregrine falcon is recovering, following a population crash in the 1950s and 1960s triggered by the build-up of agricultural poisons in the food chain. The latest peregrine population estimate suggests there are around 1400 pairs of the bird in the UK, principally in the north and west. Although recovering the peregrine is still vulnerable to persecution.

4th July 2014