A journalist from one of the nationals contacted me to ask my opinion on a statement he’d been sent by Dorset Police about the premature closure of the investigation into the poisoned white-tailed eagle found dead on a shooting estate in North Dorset in January (see here).
You may recall that Dorset Police published a short public statement on 29th March 2022:
The latest police statement sent to the journalist reads as follows:
Deputy Chief Constable Sam de Reya, of Dorset Police, said: “Dorset Police has responded robustly to allegations that a White-tailed Sea Eagle had been deliberately poisoned and killed by unknown persons. As a result of the sea eagle being found dead on land in the North Dorset area, our team has carried out a full and proportionate investigation under Section 1 of the Wildlife Countryside Act 1981 in conjunction with Natural England, National Wildlife Crime Unit, the RSPB and the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation to identify any offences and perpetrators who may be responsible.
“As you can imagine detecting the deliberate poisoning of a bird of prey is extremely difficult without local intelligence and information to support the investigation. GPS data provided information that over an 11-day period the White-tailed Sea Eagle spent time across a multitude of locations in the North Dorset area. Despite working with experts, we have been unable to confirm deliberate intent to kill this beautiful bird or identify potential offenders. A detailed examination and tests have been carried out on the bird, which were inconclusive, and it has therefore not been possible to confirm that any criminal offence has been committed. While high levels of brodifacoum were detected, it has not been possible to establish whether this was as a result of a deliberate act or due to secondary rodenticide poisoning. We would still encourage anyone with new information to come forward to support enquiries.
“The Force is committed to keeping everyone in our county safe, including our wildlife, which brings so much to our beautiful countryside and our communities. As part of the police uplift programme and working together with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner we have reviewed our Rural Crime Strategy for the county and allocated increased numbers of officers to the Rural Crime Team to tackle the issues that matter. This includes all aspects of rural, wildlife and heritage-related crime. We will continue to work closely with many different partner agencies in relation to these issues. As always, should any new information be received in relation to this investigation, this will be considered.
“We want to make it clear that we take any and all potential wildlife offences seriously and will act to prevent and detect offences wherever possible.”
As you can see, this statement provides a bit more detail than the first, but nevertheless, it’s still full of holes.
I don’t know how they can claim to have ‘carried out a full and proportionate investigation‘ when the planned multi-agency search of the estate where the poisoned eagle had been found dead was pulled shortly after Dorset MP Chris Loder had tweeted his lack of support for the investigation.
Dorset Police say that ‘detecting the deliberate poisoning of a bird of prey is extremely difficult without local intelligence and information‘. Yes, it is difficult but not impossible, and in this case Dorset Police have plenty of local intelligence and information, not least from on-going investigations into alleged raptor poisoning in the same area over the last few years.
Dorset Police say the poisoned eagle’s satellite tag data showed that in the 11 days prior to its death, the eagle had ‘spent time across a multitude of locations in the North Dorset area‘. What the tag data actually showed was that the eagle had visited just 2-3 locations.
Dorset Police say, ‘We have been unable to confirm deliberate intent to kill this beautiful bird or identify potential offenders‘. The high-level of Brodifacoum (x 7 the lethal dose!) is indicative of an illegal act, whether it was mis-used or targeted. And no, if you don’t conduct a search you’re not likely to be able to identify potential offenders, are you!
Dorset Police say, ‘A detailed examination and tests have been carried out on the bird, which were inconclusive…’. That’s simply not true. The eagle clearly died from Brodifacoum poisoning.
Dorset Police say, ‘While high levels of brodifacoum were detected, it has not been possible to establish whether this was as a result of a deliberate act or due to secondary rodenticide poisoning‘. It doesn’t matter if it was deliberate or not, it’s still an offence (mis-use).
There’s more to come on this case…