Police investigation launched after multiple raptors found poisoned by rodenticides

West Yorkshire Police published the following statement on its Facebook page yesterday:

Unfortunately there isn’t any information about the number of raptors poisoned, which species, on what dates they were found, or at which locations.

I haven’t been able to find any other reports or details – there isn’t anything on the West Yorkshire Police website or on its various Twitter accounts.

Thanks to the blog reader who drew my attention to the Facebook page.

17 thoughts on “Police investigation launched after multiple raptors found poisoned by rodenticides”

  1. I have little faith in the intent or capability of the police to make a investigation into the crimes committed against Raptors, especially on game bird shooting estates.

    1. There are some excellent police officers, Derek, working their arses off to tackle wildlife crime and especially raptor persecution. And there are others who should never have been allowed in to the police force to begin with.

    2. Hi the problem with rodenticide was, until about 5 years ago Joe public could walk into any hardware store and get their hands on any make and strength of poison including what was classed as professional use only, one feed kill, only to be used inside. To get rodenticide from main suppliers you had to pass training to get certification if not no poison. EU did bring in legislation to drastically reduce sale to small amounts for Joe public from shops but anything is obtainable on Internet. I have seen poisoned rats around private dwellings where they have not been removed. I you place poison to kill rodents there are laws in place you have to follow, same as rat and mouse traps they say that you should check traps every 24hr sooner recommended. Not sure if it’s under Wildlife and Countryside Act or Public Health Act.

        1. Hi I’ve written should be checked not must be checked but yes it falls outside of the act, it only comes as best practice for use of spring traps.

  2. I’d have thought whether the poor raptors consumed this poison directly or indirectly, the person who used it, knowing how indiscriminate it is, has to be held responsible. I realise the police have to be sure there is no get out clause before prosecuting someone but to me this is a clear indication of the danger of using poison in the countryside and thus that it should be banned entirely.

    1. And what other way are you suggesting that rats can be reduced in big numbers efficiently and effectively? I’m not talking about tidying up around the place, it’s to do with available food and habitat.
      Do you live near any farms where rats are a major problem destroying wiring in peoples homes or hollowing the walls out of buildings ?
      I think some people should try having them in and around their homes in big numbers before suggesting out right bans on anything!
      We are humans after all and should not have to put up with the cost they bring to us nor the disease ridden rodents about where children are, never mind adults. NO animal or bird is worth loosing a child’s life. I’m not supporting bad practice in the use of rodenticide but I’m sure if the boot was on the other foot and your home was being damaged by them you would soon be calling pest control, if poisoning was the best solution I’m sure your line of thought would differ also!

  3. Whilst poisons such as this are there for anyone to buy there will always be a danger to wildlife pets and even people.

  4. I am speculating, but these poisoning incidents could relate to the Red Kites which are such a magnificent sight in the skies around Harewood, which is to the NE of Leeds. Hopefully Yorkshire Red Kites will pick up on this and provide some further information?

    I think there have been previous incidents when Red Kites have been found poisoned in this area , I understand it was suspected that the birds weren’t directly targeted, but died from secondary poisoning due to eating rodents which had been legally killed by rat poison.

    If this is the case then it might be a good opportunity for a proper discussion on the use of poisons, who should have access to them, and whether the guidance on their use is in fact being properly followed.
    Irresponsible use, and a failure to properly recover the dead target species can lead to a devastating effect on wildlife which feeds on carrion.

    Birds of prey face enough problems from direct persecution, without having to suffer from reckless or careless human activity.

    Perhaps some of the more knowledgeable contributors to this blog might want to open up a discussion on whether “reckless acts” should also be included as wildlife offences if such acts harm endangered or protected wildlife?

  5. These poisons are harder ( correctly) to obtain than they were, however all poisons can and are abused. The amount of poison in these birds ought to show whether it is at levels that might occur from legitimate use or levels way above those values indicating abuse. As part of the regulations those using such poisons must dispose of bodies of poisoned rodents in such a way as to be unavailable to scavengers( incineration or deep burial).
    Those who wish to see an end to the use of poison to kill rodent pests particularly rats are unlikely in the extreme to see that wish fulfilled.

  6. I know nothing about this case but it got me thinking about an Estate I helped on in the 90’s. They released a lot of ducks and had a few ugly bare looking duck ponds dug out to hold them, to be driven off from on shoot days. These were fed daily / twice daily by tipping a couple of bags of wheat along the margins. Naturally this was a dinner gong for the rats. Every day we would also throw a dozen or so small freezer bags of rat poison (neosorexa, I think – we bagged it up ourselves from large tubs) under some sections of old tin sheets that were laid around the ponds specially for that purpose. We never gave a second thought to looking for any dead or dying rats. I don’t recall any dead owls or raptors turning up (there were and are still zero red kites in that area anyway – another story), but neither the keepers nor lads helping like me would have bothered themselves to do any more than just fling them into some dense undergrowth even if we had. Of course, that is all in the past (!) Ps nobody ever wore gloves and I can’t recall ever washing my hands much either.

  7. Sorry if I’m being dense, but haven’t all poisons been banned for many years now on Grouse moors? Or am I reading the new article wrongly?
    I know this is Yorkshire, not Scotland, but does it mean the police are retro-investigating old poisonings or only new ones?
    The article/press release seems to me to be deliberately ambiguous.

    1. Hi Jill

      The incidents seem to relate to rodenticides (typically anti-coagulants) rather than the usual banned pesticides used to deliberately poison raptors.

      Rodenticides are not banned but are regulated.

      I think what the police are getting at in their vague Facebook post is that they’re investigating to see whether the raptor deaths are as a result of accidental rodenticide poisoning or whether the rodenticides have been used deliberately to target raptors.

  8. Poisoned rodents usually hide initially, and quickly become too ill to even seek water. Which is why it is fairly rare to find corpses of dead rodents out in the open.

    But I would imagine that there would be little difference in the post mortem of a poisoned raptor from consuming a poisoned rodent to that of a poisoned raptor consuming a rodent laced with poison, unless poisoned rodents produce characteristic metabolites identifiable within the raptor.

  9. If they test for type of poison you would have a better idea if accidental or deliberate poisoning ie whether it’s a saturation bait or a pulse bait.

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