Poisoned raven found on Peak District grouse moor: Natural England & Police fail to investigate

A year ago in March 2018, a dead raven was found on a grouse moor in the Peak District National Park.

The member of the public who found it, Bob Berzins, was savvy enough to call the RSPB Investigations Team, who collected the corpse.

[Dead raven, photo by Bob Berzins]

Given the location, and the area’s long history of the illegal persecution of birds of prey (e.g. see here), the RSPB asked Natural England to run toxicology tests on the corpse, as is routine when animals have been found dead in suspicious circumstances or risky locations. According to the RSPB, Natural England refused to test the bird.

Instead, the RSPB paid to have the corpse privately tested, first in a post-mortem at the SRUC lab in Scotland and then for toxicology tests at the Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) labs, who have an excellent track record for conducting these forensic examinations.

SASA confirmed that this raven had been poisoned by Aldicarb, a toxin so dangerous that in Scotland if you’re caught even being in possession of it, let alone using it, you’ve committed an offence.

The RSPB reported these lab results to South Yorkshire Police and, according to the RSPB, nothing else has happened since, not even a police search of the grouse moor to look for further poisoned baits or victims.

You can read the details of this pathetic response to a criminal act on the RSPB’s blog here.

The RSPB Investigations Team has also produced a video about this case, here:

What the hell is going on? Why did Natural England refuse to test this raven for banned pesticides when it had been found in an area notorious as a raptor persecution hotspot?

And why did South Yorkshire police fail to investigate further? They should have been all over this, not least with a publicity campaign alerting members of the public, who visit this National Park in their millions, to the dangers of touching any dead animal or suspected poisoned bait. A year has passed and South Yorkshire police appear to have done absolutely nothing.


Well done Bob Berzins and well done to the RSPB, not just for paying to have this bird privately tested but also for submitting a formal complaint to South Yorkshire police and for alerting the public to the very serious threat of toxic poisonous baits being laid out on the ground inside this so-called National Park.

13 thoughts on “Poisoned raven found on Peak District grouse moor: Natural England & Police fail to investigate”

  1. South Yorkshire’s finest do have a lot on their minds at the moment – Hillsborough & Orgreave for starters – I’d like to think this investigation would be just the distraction they need.

  2. Well done to the RSPB for highlighting what happened in this case. As they have waited a year to release the information, it cannot be said to hamper an investigation, especially as the suggestion is that NE and the police made little or no effort to handle this. Perhaps as only Raptors are a bird related priority wildlife crime area, and Ravens are not raptors, nothing needed to be done. As I would suggest in all cases of poisoning, the dangers to animals, children and others in the countryside should make a warning to the public essential if poisoning is even only suspected, giving an approximate location. This should be done even without testing if the symptoms on initial inspection indicate the possibility. To refuse to test is an amazing gaffe, perhaps symptomatic of the near demise of an effective English watchdog.

  3. Hi there,

    Look into the activity of the White Peak Partnership.

    Last August xxxxx xxxxx spoke to farmers here on the subject of conserving ground nesting birds.

    A neighbour was so troubled when the speaker asked if there was anyone from NE there (there wasn’t) that they drove to fetch me (formerly head of several functions and policy principal at NE), and yes indeed the speaker advocated killing the ‘two Bs’ badgers and buzzards.

    Fiona Gomersall from the Shropshire Wildlife Trust was leaving as I arrived and confirmed to me that the individual had indeed advocated that. A third participant also confirmed it but the organisers here deny it point blank.

    I took up the issue with NE who grant aid the local group but because NE doesn’t have a contractual relationship with them all they could do was remind the local group of wildlife law.

    No one has formally spoken to the White Peak Partnership to my knowledge though I passed on the individuals name and address to the local wildlife crime officer.


    Rosie Wood

  4. Excellent work by Bob Berzins and RSPB.

    It’s interesting to compare South Yorkshire Police’s response when Dark Peak gamekeepers falsely accused birdwatchers of criminal damage on the moors. See here: https://www.wildsheffield.com/birdwatchers-confronted-by-masked-men/

    It took SYP just minutes to respond in force to support gamekeepers who had made false allegations of criminal damage to their snares.

    It’s been over a year and still no response to the illegal lethal poisoning of a protected species on a grouse moor, which puts not only wildlife but also dogs and visitors at risk.

    When incidents like the poisoning are reported, they must then be kept confidential so as not to compromise the police investigation. But if these “investigations” are dragged out indefinitely with no progress at all, it seems more like the police are just providing a cover-up for what has happened.

    Well done to Bob Berzins and the RSPB for making this public and holding the police to account for their inaction. Public awareness is more likely to provide protection for wildlife than the police it would seem.

  5. Well done Bob Berzins, you are a continuing example to us all of what an individual can do to help the cause. Ridiculous that Scotland has to be the way forward for us here in the English uplands!

      1. In future, why not simply remove the contentious comments received from this person. He’s like a stuck in the groove gramophone record, playing the same theme over and over again. I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds his boring, predictable comments totally unacceptable.

  6. I wonder if SYP have an opinion about the gamekeepers being masked, and not on their own (employer’s) property, but on a Wildlife Trust reserve?

  7. It is shocking that the use of illegal poisons is treated with such disregard by both S.Y.Police and Natural England.The fact that the Police have been so eager to respond to suspected tampering of traps and yet ignore the use of extremely dangerous poisons that could kill a person speaks volumes . Why did N.E deem it unnecessary to even check if the Raven had been poisoned? I think this should be investigated to see if criminal negligence was involved.

  8. Deadly poison. Disgraceful and gravely irresponsible by both South Yorkshire Police and Natural England.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s