RSPB press release (31/5/19)
(Links have been added by RPUK)
RAVEN FOUND POISONED ON RUABON MOOR
- The dead bird was found on the same estate near Wrexham, where two satellite-tagged hen harriers recently vanished.
- Police are now appealing for information from the public.
A dead raven found on Ruabon Moor, near World’s End, North Wales, has been confirmed as deliberately poisoned – triggering a police investigation.
The bird was found dead on 28 August 2018 by a man who had been out photographing birds.
He said: “I was coming home from Wrexham when I noticed the bird on the ground, away from the road in a little clearing of grass. It was upside down, its eyes sunken, and its feet in the air. It didn’t look like it had been dead for long.”
Thinking it may have been shot, he contacted the RSPB’s Investigations Unit. Following liaison with the North Wales Police, Welsh Government arranged for toxicology tests on the bird. This revealed that the raven had been deliberately poisoned with the highly toxic insecticide bendiocarb which had been most likely been applied to a bait. Police enquiries in the area have failed to identify anyone responsible.
[The illegally poisoned raven, photo from @RSPBBirders]
Ravens are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Killing one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months in jail.
Ruabon Moor holds a significant proportion of the Welsh black grouse population and is an area managed for red grouse shooting. In 2018, two rare hen harriers named Heulwen and Aalin went off the radar in this general area. The birds had been fitted with satellite-tracking devices as part of the EU-funded Hen Harrier LIFE project.
Jenny Shelton, RSPB Investigations, says: “It would seem that ravens and birds of prey are not welcome in this area, and naturally people will be asking why. There is a history throughout the UK of birds of prey and ravens being targeted on areas managed for intensive grouse shooting, due to the perceived threat these natural predators pose to the grouse. However, the law is plain: killing birds of prey and ravens is illegal.
“On top of this, placing poison in a public area is hugely irresponsible. Many people will be bringing their families to places like this as the weather warms up. To think that a child or a family pet could have found this bird is outrageous. These crimes must stop before someone is seriously harmed.”
Jenny continues: “Ravens are beginning to recover in the UK after decades of persecution, and Wales is a key stronghold for these impressive birds. Spring – the start of the bird breeding season – is sadly a key time for the illegal killing of birds of prey and ravens. If you notice a bird of prey dead on the ground in suspicious circumstances, call the police right away.”
North Wales Police are now appealing for information.
Rob Taylor, North Wales Police Rural Crime Team manager said “The deliberate killing of a bird by poisoning is a serious risk to humans and other animals such as certain birds of prey who frequent the area. We are continuing our investigation and we ask members of the public who have information to contact us or ring Crimestoppers anonymously.”
If you have any information relating to this incident, call North Wales Police on 101.
If you find a wild bird of prey which you suspect has been illegally killed, contact RSPB investigations on 01767 680551 or fill in the online form.
Or, to speak in confidence about bird of prey persecution taking place in your area, call the confidential Raptor Crime Hotline: 0300 999 0101. This number is for bird of prey-related matters only.
It’s not clear why it’s taken nine months for this news to emerge. Hopefully North Wales Police were more vocal in the local community at the time, warning the public about the presence of this deadly poison.
Let’s hope they’re also alerting locals and visitors alike that this part of North Wales is earning the reputation of being a wildlife crime hotspot, just like so many other grouse shooting areas across the UK.
The placement of warning signs at these locations is the very least we should be expecting from the authorities.