Two peregrines fatally poisoned in North Yorkshire: police appeal for information

Press release from North Yorkshire Police (21st October 2020)

Police appeal for information after peregrine falcons found dead near Tadcaster

Analysis finds carcasses containing pesticides

North Yorkshire Police is appealing for information following investigations into the death of two peregrine falcons found at a quarry near Stutton, Tadcaster.

[Photos by Guy Shorrock]

A member of the public who had been observing the mating pair of birds, found a male bird dead on a cliff ledge and following investigation by the RSPB and North Yorkshire Police to recover the carcass, a deceased female peregrine falcon was located in the bottom of the quarry.

Both birds were sent away for testing which confirmed high levels of Bendiocarb in their systems and this was found to be the cause of death. The male bird was found next to a pigeon carcass which it is believed may have been used as bait.

Bendiocarb is licensed for use as a pesticide in England but is highly toxic and should never be released into the environment where wildlife, such as birds of prey, could be exposed to it. The pesticide has been found used to kill birds of prey in North Yorkshire previously and as such, police believe this was a deliberate act of poisoning.

North Yorkshire Police Inspector Matt Hagen said:

Poisoning a bird of prey is a crime and it is saddening each time we have another incident reported to us. Every investigation is thoroughly carried out with all lines of enquiry followed to try and find those responsible, but we cannot do this without the public’s help, please be our eyes and ears and report this type of incident to the police.

I’m urging anyone who has any information about bird of prey persecution to get in touch with the police, someone out there knows who is committing these crimes and we need that information to ensure they are stopped.”

Despite extensive investigations, police have yet to identify those responsible for misusing this toxic substance. Anyone with information about this incident should contact North Yorkshire Police quoting reference 12200057190.

If you wish to remain anonymous, you can pass information to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


These peregrines were found poisoned six months ago in April 2020. There is no explanation given for the delay in publicising this crime but it is likely to do with long delays at the toxicology lab caused by the Coronavirus lockdown. It’s understood there is still a backlog of samples waiting to be analysed.

13 thoughts on “Two peregrines fatally poisoned in North Yorkshire: police appeal for information”

    1. That is very true but there are several pheasant shoots in this area, the land owner of one of which is a well known hater of all birds of prey.

  1. Beyond sad.
    40 years ago I taught Primary aged children in Tadcaster and my classes included children from Stutton village and the families of farmers who farm the areas surrounding Stutton Quarry. I still have family living in Stutton. I once arranged for staff from a local bird of prey centre to visit school and the children were delighted when a peregrine was flown on the school field. Their delight was not shared by local pigeon fanciers … and, boy, did the school hear about it! My great uncle was a pigeon fancier, but he & my grandfather were also a great raptor champions. I it is not, and never has been, OK to poison, shoot, trap or bludgeon to death any bird you don’t happen to ‘like’ or you perceive to be ‘a threat’ to your sport (?) just because you can … and can get away with it!
    Message to all pigeon fanciers and ‘sports’ shooters:- Educate yourselves then join the rest of us and GROW UP, FFS!

    1. Well said C Johnson-I have said it before many times-anyone who harms/kills a Peregrine has mental health issues and needs serious anger management therapy-yes they do need educating and need to develop a normal adult pattern of thinking-then they can join the human race! Well said also regarding likes/ dislikes-if persons/groups of people who lets be honest, want to “race” their pigeons or shoot the alien birds that they release into the countryside in astronomical numbers-they have no right whatsoever to harm/kill native wildlife which are lets be honest doing what comes naturally-these criminal low life b——s need to be caught and punished and all our children like these wonderful children in Tadcaster need to be educated-how dare pigeon fanciers and other fringe groups vent their anger on a local school-just the sort of cowardly behaviour you might expect from them I suppose-we ALL need to stand up to these villains and teach them what is right-WE OWE IT TO OUR BIRDS OF PREY AND OTHER NATIVE WILDLIFE

  2. Time to ban shooting and pigeon racing. Nothing else so mired in criminality (except fox hunting, another despicable flouting of the law) would be allowed to continue.

  3. I understand that the lab results were reported to the police/RSPB sometime in June. There may be very good operational reasons that this has not been announced until now but it is not due to the analysis being delayed, it must be somewhat disheartening for the scientists involved who have worked throughout Covid with some difficulties to always be blamed when they have no control over when any public statements or appeals are made.

    1. The lockdown was a gift for some. A reduction of people casually observing, A reduction of people seriously observing. And now a backlog of evidence and (apparantly) a delay in releasing information.

      For the lead shot people – I concluded my serious examination on the use of lead shot 45 years ago when I had to despatch a bird in my teens. I was an angler, saw the problem and ditched the shot.

      No longer an angler, but still a little coarse.

  4. Paul V Irving wrote :-

    “I understand that the lab results were reported to the police/RSPB sometime in June. There may be very good operational reasons that this has not been announced until now” ………….. etc.

    Looks like the same old long standing problem with the police failing to go public until the case is a lost cause.

    I don’t know what operational reasons could exist to justify the publication delay. Whatever the police do during these mystifying periods of being incommunicado it most certainly does not produce convictions.

  5. What I don’t understand is why when the birds were first discovered the police didn’t put out a press release for witnesses?
    This simply needs to state that 2 peregrines have been found dead in suspicious circumstances, anyone who may have witnessed any suspicious activity should contact the police.
    It is so vital in investigations that witness appeals are made early after an incident, whilst events are still fresh in a witnesses mind, and whilst they have the motivation to come forward.
    This delay in putting out information may lead to loss of potential witness information.
    It would also alert the public to the sheer scale of raptor persecution- which in turn may lead to to more pressure for positive action.

    I can understand the police not wanting to “cry wolf” if the birds had died of natural causes, but surely an early examination of the birds would have revealed their age, basic health and whether death appeared natural or suspicious?

  6. A pair of peregrines found dead at a breeding site.

    What’s the odds that this is due to natural causes?

    So why the need to delay an appeal for information until its too late to be of any use?

    All such an appeal is going to ask for is whether anyone has been seen acting suspiciously at the site. Worse case scenario is that the toxicology reports come back negative, which was never going to happen. Policing should involve the exercise of informed judgement, not a slavish adherence to a series of tick boxes.

    It would have been entirely reasonable, knowing how long it would be before the test results were available, to proceed on the assumption that the birds had been poisoned and deal with the case on that basis until shown otherwise.

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