Press statement from Durham Constabulary (21 April 2021)
Operation targets raptor persecution
Officers have teamed up with partner agencies on a special operation to target raptor persecution.
Operation Sunbeam included members of the Barnard Castle Neighbourhood Policing Team, RSPB, Natural England and the National Wildlife Crime Unit who carried out searches at two properties in Teesdale this morning (April 21).
It follows an incident last year when two common buzzards were found dead in Teesdale woodland. Forensic tests indicate they were illegally poisoned with a banned pesticide.
[Two poisoned buzzards. Photo by RSPB]
After gathering all the information, the team searched the properties for any harmful substances and two men are now helping officers with their enquiries.
PC David Williamson, who led the operation, said: “We will always do everything we can to support our rural communities and work with partners to act on information received about alleged criminal activity.
“The positive action taken this morning will continue and I would encourage anyone with information about this type of crime to get in touch.”
[Genuine & credible partnership working. Photo from Durham Constabulary]
The action was part of the Health and Safety Executive’s Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme which was makes enquiries into the death or illness of wildlife, pets and beneficial invertebrates that may have resulted from pesticide poisoning.
Guy Shorrock, senior investigating officer for the RSPB, provided specialist advice on the subject.
He said: “The illegal killing of birds of prey is a serious national problem so we are delighted with the really well-prepared response from Durham Police, working with partner agencies.
“We hope this sends a clear message that the illegal killing of birds of prey won’t be tolerated and action will be taken.”
Ian Guildford, investigative support officer for the National Wildlife Crime Unit added: “It was a very well organised response and great to see agencies coming together to tackle this type of issue.”
If you have any information call 101 or email PC Williamson at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is brilliant and follows in the footsteps of three other recent multi-agency raids in response to raptor persecution crimes.
It’s alarming that all four raids were triggered by the use of banned poisons to kill birds of prey and it’s also quite telling that these offences took place in counties spread across England. This is not a small, localised issue as the shooting industry would have us believe – this is widespread criminality and involves the use of banned poisons that have the capacity to kill anything that touches it, including humans.
Well done to all the partners involved – this is genuine and credible partnership working. Let’s hope their efforts are rewarded with successful prosecutions and convictions.