Buzzard illegally poisoned in North Yorkshire’s Nidderdale AONB

A couple of weeks ago North Yorkshire Police was warning Nidderdale residents about potential poisonous baits in the community after two dogs fell ill and one subsequently died – an investigation is ongoing but a veterinary expert suspected poisoning (see here).

Now North Yorkshire Police are having to warn the public again after toxicology analysis has confirmed that a buzzard found near Pateley Bridge in March had been illegally poisoned.

Here is the North Yorkshire Police press statement (27 May 2020):

Analysis shows buzzard killed by combination of four different pesticides

North Yorkshire Police is urging pet owners to be vigilant after analysis of a dead buzzard found near Pateley Bridge showed the presence of four pesticides in its system which are believed to be the cause of death.

In March 2020, a member of the public saw a buzzard fall out of a tree in Pateley Bridge, Nidderdale. It was taken straight to a local vet but sadly died soon after. The buzzard was sent to the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS), administered by Natural England, for further analysis due to the circumstances surrounding its death.

[The illegally poisoned buzzard, barely still alive. Photo via North Yorkshire Police]

This analysis identified the presence of three pesticides in the buzzard’s gizzard and crop with a fourth pesticide detected in its kidney. The report received by the police from WIIS noted the bird’s good body condition and the fact there was a good quantity of mixed food in its crop – two factors which indicate it likely died as a result of exposure to the pesticides.

The pesticides identified in the buzzard’s system were; Bendiocarb, Carbofuran, Isofenphos, and Chloralose. Bendiocarb is licenced for use in England as an ingredient in a number of insect control products but should not be released into an environment where wildlife could come into contact with them. Carbofuran, Isofenphos and Chloralose are all banned substances which should not be used under any circumstances.

Unfortunately several birds of prey have been the victim of poisoning in Nidderdale over the past few years with similar mixtures of poisons found in the dead birds in the past.

North Yorkshire Police is investigating this incident and has so far not found any evidence to suggest how the pesticides reached the buzzard in this case or previous cases. Often, the poison may be laid on bait such as a rabbit carcass or other so police urge dog owners to be careful and not allow their dogs to eat any dead animals they might come across on a walk or during exercise.

Anyone with any information which could help the police track down those responsible for the illegal use of these is asked to contact North Yorkshire Police, quoting reference 12200084524.

Anyone misusing pesticides may be committing a variety of offences. If you come across an object which you believe may be contaminated with a pesticide or other poisons, please do not touch it. Instead take lots of photos of the scene and a detailed grid reference if possible. Report the situation immediately to the police giving all the information collected and why you suspect involvement of a poison.

The buzzard population has recovered in Yorkshire over the past few decades and they are now a common sight in Nidderdale.  All birds are protected by law and it is a crime to intentionally kill, injure, or take any wild bird.  Persecution of birds of prey is one of the five priority crimes for the National Wildlife Crime Unit.  If anybody has information about persecution of birds of prey please call North Yorkshire Police on 101.

Find out more about how to recognise the signs of bird of prey persecution here:


The combination of four poisons used in the latest crime is interesting – it’s a familiar lethal cocktail that has been used on various grouse moors across the UK in recent years. It’s almost as though a batch has been pre-prepared and then distributed. Wouldn’t it be interesting if the geography of these occurrences matched the movements of, say, certain gamekeepers moving between jobs? There’s an analysis for the National Wildlife Crime Unit to undertake….

The Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is a well-known raptor persecution hotspot and Nidderdale residents will be used to receiving these warnings about illegal poisonous baits; there have been several police warnings in recent years (e.g. see hereherehereherehereherehere) as poison has been used routinely to kill off red kites inside this AONB and the surrounding area (e.g. see here).

And it’s not just red kites that are targeted here. We’ve blogged about Nidderdale many, many times including the poisoning and shooting of red kiteshen harriersbuzzardsmarsh harriers on Nidderdale grouse moors (as reported by the AONB partnership in September 2019). As recently as January this year the police were appealing for information after a kestrel had been found shot and just three weeks ago they appealed for information after the shooting of a buzzard.

The shooting industry’s claimed stance of ‘zero tolerance’ on the illegal killing of birds of prey becomes more discredited every single day.

[Nidderdale AONB sign, photo by Ruth Tingay]

14 thoughts on “Buzzard illegally poisoned in North Yorkshire’s Nidderdale AONB”

  1. ‘Unfortunately several birds of prey have been the victim of poisoning in Nidderdale over the past few years with similar mixtures of poisons found in the dead birds in the past.’
    That is not ‘unfortunate’!

    1. Agreed its not unfortunate they are the sad victims of serious organised crime by a person or persons unknown from the rural community. Although some “wit” out there will in their defence probably claim they are all a plant.

  2. Perhaps we should be asking the Nidderdale Moorland Group for help in solving this one, they often tells us how wonderful for wildlife the Nidderdale Grouse moors are, dependent on the hard work of owners and game keepers to keep them that way. Yea right just another level of apologists for the crimes that keep DGS alive. This sort of mix of poisons has been used in Nidderdale for about 10 years or more, time somebody prepared to talk knew.
    Then these folk are like internet trolls anti social criminals with no conscience, regard for the law, wildlife or the risks to others. If this isn’t solvable no doubt there will be another dead raptor along all too soon in the area. Sickening. Personally I hold every game keeper in the area guilty until shown otherwise as this has been going on so long there.

  3. How long did it take to release this statement, and who might benefit from any delay? Not saying it’s deliberate, perhaps it’s just very unfortunate, and yet it could be taken to indicate a low priority, rightly or wrongly.

    1. Hi sog,

      I don’t think it’s an indication of low priority at all, especially given North Yorkshire Police’s output in recent months, even during the CV19 pandemic.

      It’s likely that the toxicology analysis was slow, given the lockdown. I’m aware of a considerable backlog of analyses waiting to be done in at least one specialist lab, simply because they had to alter their working conditions to make it safe for employees to continue.

  4. “North Yorkshire Police is urging pet owners to be vigilant.”

    Neither I, or my dog Alfie, will be going to Nidderdale again.

    As you know, I wrote to Julian Smith MP for Nidderdale asking him to back the police request for increased powers – he hasn’t replied.

    1. I don’t think it matters Mike. A friend has made appointments and been to see him about this sort of stuff. All you get back is the usual guff from all tory MPs you contact about this. They give you the impression correct I suspect that in reality they don’t give a damn. Best way to deal with their attitude vote for somebody else as you can bet all the grouse lobby vote tory.

  5. I’ve just been told there’s supposed to be a special investigation shown on Channel 4 news at 7 pm today (Friday) about the persecution of birds of prey on Yorkshire grouse moors. Hopefully it’ll be as hard hitting and bullshit free as their previous treatment of the topic.

  6. If NE were serious about their job then all the grouse moors in this area should be shut until the culprit is handed over or ceases his activities for good

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