Yet another poisoned buzzard found dead on a grouse moor in North York Moors National Park

Joint press release from North Yorkshire Police and RSPB (24 July 2020)

APPEAL FOR INFORMATION AFTER ANALYSIS REVEALS BUZZARD POISONED

Buzzard found dead on moorland near Swainby, North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire Police and the RSPB are appealing for information after a dead buzzard was found on Live Moor close to the village of Swainby.

The bird was discovered by a member of the public on 20 March 2020 and reported to the RSPB before being removed. North Yorkshire Police submitted the buzzard for a post mortem examination which revealed an extremely high concentration of  toxic chemical, Chloralose in the bird’s system. Given the buzzard was in good bodily condition and had no injuries, the analysis shows poisoning to be the cause of death.

[The poisoned buzzard. Photo by RSPB]

North Yorkshire Police Inspector, Matt Hagen, explains:

A low percentage of chloralose was commonly used in rodenticides to kill mice but is only currently permitted for use indoors and at a small dose. As such, there is no way this buzzard could have come into contact with such a high concentration of this poison by accident and we believe someone deliberately set out to kill this bird by poisoning.

Unfortunately, this is the latest in a number of similar cases where birds of prey have been subjected to cruel and illegal persecution here in North Yorkshire. We are doing everything we can to try and find those responsible but we really need the public’s help as they are acting as our eyes and ears around the county. Anyone with information about this or any other incident of bird of prey persecution should contact the police on 101, we all have a part to play in putting an end to these unacceptable crimes.

Howard Jones, RSPB Investigations Officer, said:

Buzzards are a protected species yet continue to be relentlessly shot, trapped and poisoned in North Yorkshire. RSPB data shows that North Yorkshire is consistently the county with the highest number of crimes against birds of prey.

Alphachloralose is a commonly abused product in the illegal killing of birds of prey. The amount of it found in this bird was enough to kill a human child. People, pets and other wildlife are at risk from this kind of illegal behaviour, which is why we urge anyone who may have information about this incident to do the right thing and come forward.”

Anyone who has information which could assist with this investigation should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 or if you wish to remain anonymous, you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Quote reference: 12200116641.

ENDS

What this press release doesn’t say is that this illegally poisoned buzzard was found dead on a grouse moor inside the North York Moors National Park.

Nor does the press release explain the delay in publishing an appeal for information (corpse found 20 March, press release issued 24 July).

There are some individuals from the grouse shooting industry who are claiming on social media that this delayed reporting is a deliberate ploy to coincide with the run-up to the start of the grouse-shooting season on 12 August, and thus create bad publicity for the industry to ruin the ‘celebrations’. It’s a commonly-heard complaint and simply allows the persecution apologists to focus on anything other than the news that yet another bird of prey has been found illegally killed on yet another grouse moor.

Had they bothered to ask the police why there was such a long delay they might have understood that the toxicology labs were closed during lockdown and are now having to work through a significant backlog of cases, so confirmation of poisoning will take longer than usual.

It’s no surprise the grouse shooting industry wants to divert attention from this latest crime to be uncovered on a grouse moor inside this national park. It’s the third raptor persecution crime to be reported in the North York Moors National Park in recent months, following the discovery in April of five dead buzzards shoved in a hole on a grouse moor in Bransdale, four of which were later confirmed to have been shot (see here), and then last week’s news that three gamekeepers on the Queen’s grouse moor at Goathland had been suspended following a police investigation in to the trapping and alleged killing of a goshawk in May (see here).

The grouse shooting industry’s professed ‘zero tolerance for raptor persecution’ (see here) is as unconvincing now as it was when it was claimed last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that……etc.

14 thoughts on “Yet another poisoned buzzard found dead on a grouse moor in North York Moors National Park”

  1. ‘Unfortunately, this is the latest in a number of similar cases where birds of prey have been subjected to cruel and illegal persecution here in North Yorkshire’.

    Unfortunately again. How much unfortune can we take.

  2. Another sad victim of the criminals we must assume are associated with DGS, its difficult to see anything coming of this appeal, as with most poisoning victims all we have is the analysis and a dead bird, no bait no bait layer seen. To the criminals that do this it is a victimless crime, as they don’t consider the birds they kill as anything other than “vermin” but of course not only was this Buzzard a victim of criminality but we are all deprived of it soaring in the countryside. We are all victims of this nasty pernicious criminality every bird they kill is a victim and all those who would have enjoyed knowing they were out there are also victims (us).
    Again NYP and RSPB have failed to name the estate, which to my mind is simply not good enough, it surely cannot be libellous to say that the bird was found on Live Moor part of the X estate, it is a simple statement of fact.

    1. I think there is a pheasant shoot in Scugdale (can’t confirm for sure, not too familiar with this area), and I know there’s two pheasant shoots in Raisdale close by to the east. Don’t know what the arrangement is with this particular moor and who owns it. It’s not like the better known estates and the ones mapped on Guy Shrubsole’s website where we have a good idea of boundaries and ownership.

      In fact the land the buzzard was found on appears to be unregistered. Land registry shows no information, and it appears on Shrubsole’s map of unregistered land.

  3. Just in case there is some misinterpretation of the meaning of ‘self policing’ on the Shootist side, here is a definition for their clarification:

    self-po·​lic·​ing | \ ˌself-pə-ˈlē-siŋ \
    Definition of self-policing (Entry 1 of 2)
    : the act or action of supervising the activities or policies of one’s own group in order to prevent or detect and address violations of rules and regulations without outside enforcement.

  4. As Paul Irving remarked:-
    “Again NYP and RSPB have failed to name the estate, which to my mind is simply not good enough, it surely cannot be libellous to say that the bird was found on Live Moor part of the X estate, it is a simple statement of fact.”

    Not only is that not good enough, but to allow 4 months to elapse before posting an appeal for help is farcical.

    “Anyone who has information which could assist with this investigation should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 or if you wish to remain anonymous, you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Quote reference: 12200116641.”

    Roughly translated that appeal requests that it would help if anyone out there has the gift of time travel. If so would they please turn the clock back in order to check who, if anyone, happened to be floating about at the time.

    1. Dougie as to the time lag I would read the post again, its down to delayed analysis due to the plague. The other thing I would say is that the moors of NYMNP are kept by and large far too short and the whole area apart from the larger woodlands, which are mainly forestry, rather devoid of larger raptors this incident and that near Goathland tell us exactly why.
      One hopes that the senior folk at RSPB are taking note as part of their review of policy towards game shooting and it will result in some firm changes we can all support rather than the hopeless ” licencing option” because that is a vote for the status quo as it will never ever be adequately policed.

      1. I realise that, Paul (although long delays were happening before the damned virus broke loose).

        However, the situation with raptors being killed frequently really calls for any find of a carcass to immediately trigger a public notice simply stating that a dead buzzard etc. has been found at xxxx location in suspicious circumstances on or about xxxx date. If anyone saw any people, vehicles etc near the locus at that time get in touch with the police urgently.
        If forensics subsequently do not provide cause for investigation then the call for help will have done no harm.
        Long delays almost always render the case hopeless.

  5. Without licencing and /or custodial sentences it’s never gonna change. Who blinks first…..

    1. Steve, a question and I am not being deliberately difficult here. How do you see the licencing system, if it became reality being policed, who would be doing it and how would the costs be covered? To my mind that policing would need to be extremely robust and whom so ever was doing it would have time for little else, otherwise it becomes a meaningless rubber stamp no better that what happens now and that would be terrible.

      1. Paul has summed up the problem. Any solution has to be practical and has to be capable of providing rapid action in the event of transgression.
        If game bird shooting can only be authorised by means of a licence. What happens if a licence is granted and persecution continues.
        If no one can be proved gulity of the persecution (the most likely outcome) then there can be no means of withdrawing the licence.
        No matter what conditions are written into a licence the courts will simply not tolerate anyone being held responsible for a licence transgression without there being proof of guilt established at a trial.
        (In general it is really not in anyone’s interest to permit punishment for any offence without guilt being established in court. We know from history how that state of affairs would end. This is not some totalitarian state.)
        I don’t see any solution other than to outlaw shooting or massively increase policing/prosecution/punishment.

        1. “I don’t see any solution other than to outlaw shooting or massively increase policing/prosecution/punishment.” Go for it, lets do both.

  6. So another bird poisoned with a substance lethal enough to kill a child, are you taking notice government do we have to wait until this happens, and then you will say lessons must be learned but that’s not nearly good enough, grow some balls and do what you should have done a long time ago and deal with this criminal element because they are massively out of control

  7. Knowing what little live-wires keepers and farmers kids often are, and that they generally have free reign to run amok around woods, sheds and outbuildings, they are among the ones most at risk. That alone, one would assume, would hold their fathers back- but I don’t think it does. The fanaticism, dedication and belief that what they are doing is right always seems to win out.

  8. Time for the national park to set up round the clock ranger patrols and surveillance of land day and night.

    Set up volunteer teams to support rangers and police and a team of special constables dedicated to the disruption of the criminals doing this….in conjunction with rangers and volunteers.

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