Further to yesterday’s news that two reintroduced white-tailed eagles have been found dead in suspicious circumstances on game-shooting estates in southern England and that Dorset Police are investigating the circumstances of the one found in Dorset (here), local conservative MP Chris Loder has made an extraordinary statement on Twitter this morning.
[The dead white-tailed eagle found in Dorset. Photo from Dorset Police]
Here’s his tweet:
Is this guy for real?
This is a suspected wildlife crime of a very serious nature. The three most common methods for killing birds of prey on UK game-shooting estates are shooting, trapping (and then clubbing to death) and poisoning. We don’t know which of these methods, if any, have been deployed in this case but all are potential features of the case. The fact that Dorset Police have stated the eagle has gone for toxicology analysis suggests that poisoning is a possibility.
The poisons most frequently used to kill birds of prey in this country are highly toxic substances – banned in many countries because they’re so dangerous that just a tiny amount is enough to kill a human. The effects of using poisonous baits are indiscriminate. Not only may the baits kill the target species but any other species that happens to come into contact with it, or any pet dog, or any inquisitive human, including a child.
If the eagle has been shot, there’s a dangerous armed individual on the loose in Dorset.
If the eagle has been trapped and clubbed to death, there’s a dangerous psychopath on the loose in Dorset.
Why on earth wouldn’t Mr Loder MP want Dorset Police to spend time and resources investigating this incident?
It wouldn’t have anything to do with the local conservative party receiving donations from a prominent Dorset estate, would it? [Note: I am not in any way suggesting that the donor estate is linked to the death of this eagle, I’m pointing out that on the Parliamentary register of interests Mr Loder has listed substantial party donations from a Dorset estate whose owner appears to be linked to ‘country sports’].
Dorset Police’s Rural Crime Team have hit back at Mr Loder:
Mr Loder’s response:
FFS. As if it isn’t difficult enough for under-staffed, under-resourced police officers to investigate wildlife crime. Imagine being on this rural crime team, which, by the way, has a deserved reputation for being diligent and sincere when dealing with alleged raptor persecution crimes, trying to get to the bottom of what will be one of the highest profile cases this year, under huge public pressure to deliver results (quite rightly, IMHO), and the local MP publishes demoralising tosh like this.
I hope his inbox is flooded with complaints.
UPDATE 12th February 2022: Dorset MP Chris Loder’s farming connections may explain his anti-eagle hysteria (here)
UPDATE 14th April 2022: Dorset Police refuse FoI request for correspondence between them and Chris Loder MP on poisoned eagle (here)