Poisoning suspected after discovery of dead peregrine & tethered pigeon ‘bait’

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) is investigating a suspected poisoning incident after raptor workers found the body of a dead young peregrine and the remains of what had probably been a live tethered pigeon close to the peregrine’s nest site. An adult peregrine is reported as ‘missing’ from the site.

The gruesome discovery was made by members of the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group (NIRSG) in the Scraghey area of Castleberg, Co Tyrone, on 10 July 2018. Toxicology results are awaited.

[Photo of the dead young peregrine, by NIRSG]

[Photo of the rock, baler twine & remains of a pigeon leg found at the site, by NIRSG]

Smearing a live pigeon with poison and then tethering it close to a peregrine breeding site to act as a flapping ‘bait’ is a barbaric yet all too common crime. We only blogged about a similar case a few weeks ago (see here).

Jim Wells from the NIRSG said: “The vigilance of several members of the Raptor Study Group and the very quick response by the PSNI have revealed what is likely to be one of the most serious incidents of peregrine persecution in Northern Ireland for several years.

This is nasty, very cruel and callous. We don’t know what the suspected poison is, but if someone had come along and tried to help the pigeon it could have hurt them too.

This has happened on several occasions in areas of Co Tyrone. There are around 15 sites in Tyrone, it’s an important breeding ground. But in some areas there is still a culture of poisoning birds, which is very damaging to the overall population.

All of the peregrine sites in Co Tyrone are monitored on a regular basis every year. This research has revealed that illegal persecution remains a problem in some parts of the county“.

Dr Eimear Rooney of the NIRSG and a representative on the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime NI said there are between 80 and 90 breeding pairs of peregrines across the whole of Northern Ireland, of which around 55 pairs are successful in producing young. She said:

The population of peregrines in Northern Ireland is limited by available nest sites and thus has remained fairly stable for several yearsHowever, illegal killing could result in serious implication for the viability of the species here. Peregrine falcons are primary predators and removal of such predators from our ecosystems can have serious consequences on a wide range of species.

It’s deeply frustrating to think that someone went out of their way to target these birds in such a heinous manner“.

Anyone with information about this suspected crime is encouraged to contact the PSNI (Tel: 101) quoting incident number 1550.10/7/18.

5 thoughts on “Poisoning suspected after discovery of dead peregrine & tethered pigeon ‘bait’”

  1. So ‘it is suspected of being poisoned” eh? It could of course have tripped over the tether and broken it’s neck!!! Yes, RPUK, I do realise the reason for death has to be proven, but my God, what a crazy world we live in nowadays. It’s like finding a hanged man and saying “It is suspected that the victim died of asphyxiation”!!!

    1. It looks like a “point-of fledge” young bird, and although it may well have been fed posoned pigeon and succumbed there is also the possibility that it starved after one or more of the parents was killed. Negative toxicology results would not necesarily mean that a poisoning incident did not lead to this bird’s death.

  2. Since Peregrine has recovered to super – abundance in the post – pesticide era in the British Isles, the deluded few in the pigeon racing world can safely be ignored.
    The tide of raptor recovery cannot be rolled back.
    The bigger question is … ” why is the cruel sport of pigeon racing still allowed ? ”

    Keep up the pressure !

  3. A spokesman from the SGA said….

    “it was the satellite tag”, “it wisnae me” “it was the satellite tag….”

    “no sorry I read the wrong script,… ”

    “it was the RSPB bird ringer…tied a stone to it and dropped it oot the nest…that must have knocked off the satellite tag…. Strong and Stable!…..Free Tommy Robertson! BREXIT!”

    “Wisnae like this in the auld days….”

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