Another dead buzzard in Dorset – Police warn public of suspected poisoned baits

Yet another dead buzzard has been found in North Dorset.

Whilst the cause of death has yet to be ascertained (presumably the carcass has been sent for post mortem), yesterday PC Rob Hammond warned the public to keep their dogs on leads to avoid the risk of them coming into contact with potential poisoned baits.

Well done to PC Hammond for putting out this timely warning. Even though poisoning has not yet been confirmed, the potential risk to the public and their dogs is high so he’s done exactly the right thing.

Dorset is fast becoming quite the hotspot for raptor persecution. I’ve been looking through some reports from the last few years and have found the following incidents of raptor persecution recorded in the county:

May 2018: Buzzard found shot dead (here).

May 2018: Suspicious deaths of two barn owls and several more buzzards (here).

March 2020: Disturbance of nesting peregrines (here).

April 2020: Several buzzards were found dead within close proximity to each other in the Ashmore Wood area near Blandford. These birds were sent for testing and enquiries remain ongoing (here).

August 2020: Two buzzards, one dead, were found near the body of a rabbit. An owl and a further two buzzards were also found. Analysis has confirmed Brodifacoum in the buzzard which is likely to have caused the death. The second buzzard and the owl had background residues and the analysis on the rabbit was negative.

September 2020: A dead buzzard was found on a bridleway, it had been shot.

November 2020: A dead red kite and rat were found near a footpath. Analysis has confirmed Bendiocarb in the stomach contents of the red kite and in pots removed from a vehicle and a sachet in a shed, which is likely to be the cause of death. No residues were found in the rat.

February 2021: A buzzard and a red kite were found in a wooded area. Analysis has confirmed Brodifacoum in the liver of the red kite which will have contributed to its death, the levels of Brodifacoum in the buzzard are borderline and uncertain if the exposure contributed to its death. 

March 2021: A multi-agency raid was carried out on a shooting estate in North Dorset. A number of dead birds of prey and several pesticides, including banned substances, were located at the premises. A firearm was also recovered (here).

January 2022: A dead white-tailed eagle was found poisoned on a shooting estate in North Dorset. The post mortem found its liver contained 7 x lethal dose of rodenticide Brodifacoum. Inexplicably, Dorset Police closed the investigation before conducting a search (here).

February 2022: Another white-tailed eagle was suspected to have been poisoned on another shooting estate in North Dorset. This one survived (here).

February 2022: A dead buzzard and a dead red kite are found dead on a shooting estate in North Dorset, suspected poisoned. Toxicology results awaited (here).

April 2022: A dead buzzard found dead in the Ashmore area. Toxicology results awaited.

It’s pretty clear that Dorset has a raptor persecution issue and I understand there are several more investigations that have yet to be reported in the public domain. Given these incidents, and more, it’s astonishing that the local MP, Chris Loder, thinks the police shouldn’t ‘waste resources’ on investigating wildlife crimes.

It’s even more astounding that Dorset Police shut down the poisoned eagle investigation, without conducting a search, and continue to refuse any explanation for their decision and yet still the top brass claim to be taking raptor persecution ‘seriously’, not that anyone believes them anymore.

It’s heartening then to see on-the-ground officers like PC Rob Hammond, trying to do the right thing. I wonder how long it’ll be before he’s told to drop the case and/or stop investigating wildlife crime, as has his colleague, PC Claire Dinsdale?

14 thoughts on “Another dead buzzard in Dorset – Police warn public of suspected poisoned baits”

  1. That’s an appalling tally of incidents, surely some of those should have resulted in prosecution or the identification of guilty parties.

  2. So, numerous incidents of dead Raptors in Dorset. Are these death recorded as miscellaneous (like other wildlife crime) or is there a specific category? We know that resources follow data that can be extrapolated.
    Yes, given Dorset’s record of dead/killed Raptors it is truly amazing that the investigation of the WTE has been dropped.
    I feel as with other wildlife crime unless we the public rise up in large numbers this persecution of our wildlife will continue and increase. When criminals act with impunity they are emboldened and they increase their activity. With every death the shock doesn’t lessen, in fact it increases.

  3. Surely this should halt Natural England’s hen harrier reintroduction in the South West, since there is a serious problem with wildlife crime in this region

  4. Another sad part of this is that these birds are most likely to be breeding so loss of eggs or young birds will also be encountered.

  5. Was there any further action after the March 2021 incident? The raid appears to have found evidence of wildlife crime, I think.

  6. It is ridiculous, to put it mildly, that with all these raptor deaths no-one has been prosecuted. It is not mere coincidence that these deaths have happened in the same area of the UK surely. How can the police not be seen to be doing anything?
    And as for the local MP, Mr Chris Loder, I will keep my thoughts about him to myself; but obviously he is no fan of wildlife in his area with his thinking that the police should not waste resources investigating wildlife crimes.
    Indeed, well done to PC Hammond for putting out this timely warning. Raising awareness about the potential risk to the public and their dogs being so high he’s done exactly the right thing. All power to him in his investigations, that is if he is allowed to do so by Dorset Police.

  7. Yep, the deaths of tagged high profile birds like eagles and harriers (and kites in some areas) get the headlines and rightly make people angry, but their losses are ‘just’ one indicator of what goes on week in and week out with less glamorous birds right around the country. Buzzards – ‘gotta get the young ‘uns as they move in and before they nest’, Sparrowhawks – ‘special effort needed before the Red-Legs go out in their little pens as they will just sit on the roofs and scare them to death’, Tawny Owls – ‘best have a few evening vigils before the Pheasant poults arrive’. Harriers, Peregrines, Goshawks – are such effective predators that keepers must take every chance they can, even if it is risky. And on, and on and on. Many people on both sides of this bitter row know fine well that you just cannot run an intensive* game shoot and leave raptors alone to thrive – you will simply go bust, let’s not bullshit around that fact. Anyone ‘newly angry’ about the fate of these WTE’s needs to stay angry every day about all of the other boring species all over the UK killed in scores every single day.
    *intensive*…the whole reason we have this huge cancer just under the surface in our countryside = no Estate or Agent ever makes a profit by shooting ethically and in moderation.

  8. The royal estates don’t like our raptors either!! In 2020 on a royal grouse shoot in Yorkshire there were Goshawks illegally trapped+killed. And also mysterious bird of prey deaths on the Sandringham estate. It’s a sickening thought to just think how many birds of prey are being killed every week on estates all over the country that we don’t get to hear about

  9. But isn’t wonderful that Prince William stands shoulder to shoulder with David Attenborough in protecting wildlife.

    1. You may be interested in this reply from the WWF regarding Prince Phillips’ life-long support of shooting in the UK. This is the most pertinent part:

      “As a conservation organization, WWF does not oppose hunting and fishing that does not pose a threat to the survival of species, as long as it observes local cultural sensitivities. In other words, activities that are sustainable, well-regulated, and that support the livelihoods of local and aboriginal communities. We monitor any situations brought to our attention to see if they come under our mission of conservation, and I have passed your concerns on UK grouse hunting across to our conservation teams so that they can assess them further and see if we have the expertise to be able to work with other organisations to assist.”

      It may surprise further to hear of the three organisations which the WWF regarded as having “specific work in the areas you’ve mentioned” (shooting game birds in the UK): IFAW, RSPCA and WAP.

      The reply was signed by a/the Supporter Operations Supervisor, based in Woking, UK, dated 17th November 2021, while my query to the WWF (about the attempted extirpation of Hen Harriers and other raptors in the UK, and all the other abuses of wildlife and the environment by the shooting industry in the UK) was sent on the 24th June, 2021.

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