Police ask public to be vigilant after buzzard & two peregrines found dead in Staffordshire Moorlands

Press release from Staffordshire Police (20 May 2020)

Three birds of prey found dead in Staffordshire Moorlands

Police have raised concerns after three birds of prey were found dead in the Staffordshire Moorlands [inside the Peak District National Park].

On Saturday (16 May) a buzzard and peregrine falcon were sadly discovered dead in a wooded area of Longnor, and yesterday (Tuesday 19 May) a second peregrine falcon was found dead near Wetton.

As there were no visible signs of injury, the birds will now be forensically examined to establish the cause of death. At this time officers cannot rule out the possibility that the birds were poisoned.

A police investigation is on-going as under the Wildlife and Countryside Act it is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take wild birds.

[Photo by Staffordshire Police]

Officers are asking local residents and visitors to these areas to report of any suspicious behaviour and be vigilant for the signs of criminal activity, including dead or injured birds, poisoned bait and traps.

Reports are handled in the strictest of confidence – so anyone with any information is asked to get in touch by calling 101, or completing an online form at; https://www.staffordshire.police.uk/report-online/ quoting incident number 284 of 19 May.

Staffordshire Police continues to support Operation Owl – a national initiative to raise awareness and prevent the persecution of birds of prey in our countryside.

Chief Inspector Mark Thorley, commander of the Staffordshire Moorlands Neighbourhood Policing Team and rural crime lead, said:

If the birds have been specifically targeted, this is a dreadful crime and those responsible must be brought to justice.

If you come across a dead bird or suspicious object, this could be a wildlife crime scene. Please do not touch or move anything. Every piece of information may be crucial in prosecuting an offender so please take photographs if you can and make a note of your surroundings and landmarks to help officers to locate it.

Any information, no matter how small and insignificant it may seem, could help with our on-going investigation so please get in touch with us directly or any of our partners listed below.”

Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.
Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme hotline 0800 321 600.
RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime hotline 0300 999 0101.


UPDATE 2 October 2020: Birds of prey illegally poisoned in Staffordshire / Peak District National Park (here)

11 thoughts on “Police ask public to be vigilant after buzzard & two peregrines found dead in Staffordshire Moorlands”

  1. Maybe future police statements should ask for finders of dead raptors to get the GPS coordinates from their phone and/or the “what 3 words” reference for the location to help officers find the body.

  2. Google maps shows where you are on the Satellite view. Saving the screen shot will give a useful information.

  3. The evidence against this criminal industry is now gathered in ever increasing volumes.
    Keep on digging that hole game shooters.
    We’re coming for you !

    Keep up the pressure !

  4. More sickening events.
    On the positive side the police have again been quick to make a public statement. That is now quite a few fast police responses. They have clearly been told to dramatically up their game in this respect and are so doing. Keep at it guys !

  5. So, does that make 58 raptors reported killed during the lockdown period?

    The true figure will of course be much higher as many other birds that have been killed will have been concealed by the killers whilst the public were absent from the countryside.

    All these birds are protected by law, and raptor persecution is a national wildlife crime priority.

    Now just imagine the worldwide condemnation which would take place if 58 tigers, 58 rhinos or 58 elephants had been reported poached during a lockdown period in a country which claimed that preserving its wildlife was a national wildlife crime priority. Would not there be calls within the media of incompetence by the government or of not taking the matter seriously?
    Would not the politicians in that country responsible for nature and conservation be at least making public statements condemning the killing, and stating urgent steps would be taken to increase anti poaching patrols?

    Could the absence of a statement and lack of condemnation from George Eustice MP- Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, actually reveal the truth about how the UK government really views its responsibility towards protecting British wildlife?

    Could this lack of a political statement perhaps also be an indication of just how much political influence land owners have?

    It is a shameful damnation on the UK, and perhaps demonstrates just how weak its enforcement and legislative process is, in bringing wildlife criminals to justice.

    How can a country which has produced some of the finest individuals in raising global wildlife and environmental issues, not get its own house in order?

    Should not politicians in this country be held to account for just why they are allowing this slaughter of UK protected wildlife to take place?
    It is a national disgrace.

  6. Good points made there John. Hiding away is cowardly and irresponsible. If they are in the position of power to speak up, then do so. Hiding away reveals who you are.

    The other gutless crowd are “shooters” who don`t have the courage to speak out. They know by now of this disgusting secret cull going on. All sucking up to the “Countryside Mafia”, none of them with any character or balls.

  7. Strangely heartening for me. The rapid public response from the Police suggests they’re starting to take these horrible crimes more seriously, & some are more willing to tread on Establishment toes. I grieve for the birds, but in the past we used to hear the news until any trail had gone cold

    1. just a word of caution regarding the inference being drawn that just because the police are quickly putting out a media statement and witness appeal following an incident of reported raptor persecution, that the police are in fact taking these crimes more seriously.

      Firstly, raptor crimes are emotive and will generate media interest, so police press offices will release a media briefing.
      Secondly, it is common police practice when investigating any crime to appeal for witnesses- having a witness strategy is a core investigative tool, and this includes witnesses appeals through the media. (It can also mean that few or no witnesses have been identified by the police, and there is a requirement to try and establish some witness evidence in order that an investigation can start to proceed)
      The unlawfull killing of raptors is a national wildlife crime priority- and as such there is political expectation that the police will be seen to be taking measures to reflect this priority. Any police constabulary which failed to use the basic investigative tool of a media release would be failing to meet basic investigative standards.

      What we don’t know is:
      The scale of police resources being dedicated to wildlife crime, and in particular raptor persecution?
      What specialist investigative training those officers have had in investigating raptor crime?
      The scale and scope of any partnership working in both investigating raptor crime and sharing information with other bodies, such as the RSPB Investigation Team, National Wildlife Crime Unit, Natural England etc.
      Are police wildlife officers, who have had specialist training in wildlife matters, also backed up by trained detectives, or at least have access to detectives to help with investigation strategies and processes?
      Is there community police mobilisation in areas where raptors crimes are occurring to engage with local communities and develop intelligence to identify suspects?
      What is the depth and scope of the forensic and technical strategy being deployed to investigate these wildlife crimes?

      What has been illuminating recently, is the admission by the police that due to legal reasons they are unable to use covert tactics, such as surveillance cameras or mobile phone and data technology, to monitor suspects and gather evidence.

      This will frustrate the success of most raptor persecution crimes; as those perpetrating these crimes are committing their vile acts in remote rural areas, away from the gaze of potential witnesses, where there is a lack of normal urban infrastructure such as CCTV, and where the specific location of a crime scene can often be unidentified or spread over a vast open moorland with very limited forensic opportunities, which will quickly degrade.

      So, perhaps the only investigative tool available to the police is a media press appeal?
      Which sadly, due to dynamics of many isolated rural communities, will not produce the vital evidence the police need to progress an investigation ( this has been touched on previously)

      So whilst it is very welcoming that the police have taken some very positive steps in creating specialist wildlife officers, (and there are some very dedicated police wildlife officers who are passionate about the work they undertake), that there is often a rapid media exposure of incidents to at least raise public awareness (Operation Owl), and some police services do seem at least to trying to bring offenders to justice by progressing investigations to a court hearing.
      I, however, remain very neutral on whether the police have the resources or legal framework to actually take these crimes as seriously as we would like?

      And that may not be the fault of the police???

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