North Yorkshire Police made quite a statement on Friday morning when at least 10 marked police vehicles descended upon Pateley Bridge in Nidderdale, along with forensic-suited poisons experts from Natural England. When asked by local residents what they were doing, the police replied they were conducting searches in relation to the illegal killing of birds of prey in the area.
North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Task Force tweeted about it yesterday:
This is a very good example of proactive policing. The Nidderdale AONB is one of the UK’s most notorious hotspots for illegal raptor persecution, particularly on many of its driven grouse moors e.g. see here for a recent damning report published by the local AONB authority and for just a small sample of reported persecution crimes in recent years see here, here, here, here, here, here, here here, here, here, here, here and here.
During lockdown, the police were appealing for information about two separate illegal poisoning incidents in the area, involving two dogs (here) and a buzzard (here) and it’s believed Friday’s search may have been in relation to these most recent incidents.
Illegal poisoning happens with such frequency in this area that the specific concoction used has even been named the ‘Nidderdale Cocktail’ (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.
In the police’s tweet, they mention searches ‘under S19 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981’. This refers to Section 19 of the Act, entitled ‘Enforcement’ and allows officers to enter private land, without a warrant, to conduct searches where there is reasonable suspicion that an individual is committing or has committed an offence:
North Yorkshire Police haven’t revealed whether anything was found, and nor would we expect them to at this early stage, but the fact they turned up in force, accompanied by Natural England staff who have expertise in poison storage, labelling and identification, and that they weren’t shy about telling local shoppers why they were there, sends a very clear message to the Nidderdale raptor killers.
Well done, North Yorkshire Police & Natural England. More of this, please.