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.