Wildlife Crime Working Group seeks explanation from Dorset Police about failure to investigate poisoned eagle incident

Wildlife & Countryside LINK’s Wildlife Crime Working Group, England’s largest coalition of organisations working to tackle wildlife crime, has written to the Chief Constable of Dorset Police with concerns about the premature decision to terminate the police investigation into the poisoned eagle found dead on a game-shooting estate in January.

For new blog readers, this young white-tailed eagle, one of the reintroduced birds from the Isle of Wight, was found dead in January on an unnamed estate and a post-mortem revealed its liver contained the rodenticide Brodifacoum, at an exceptionally high concentration (x 7 the amount needed to kill a bird of this size). This indicates either (a) misuse of the product (e.g. failure to adhere to the strict terms of use) or (b) abuse of the product (e.g. the deliberate placing of a bait containing an exceptionally high concentration of poison). Either way, it’s an offence and thus requires a full investigation.

Unbelievably, instead of undertaking a follow-up search of the estate, Dorset Police chose to close the investigation abruptly without adequate explanation. This decision came shortly after local Conservative MP Chris Loder made statements on Twitter about how the police should be focusing on other issues and not on suspected wildlife crime on game-shooting estates. Mr Loder’s entry on the Parliamentary Register of Interests reveals substantial donations to his election campaign by notable game-shooting estates in Dorset.

Since the decision to close the investigation, Dorset Police has attempted to dodge Freedom of Information requests about this incident (see here and here) and responses are now overdue. More on that tomorrow.

Here is the letter sent today by the LINK Wildlife Crime Working Group to the Chief Constable of Dorset Police, Scott Chilton:

Note, the deadline given by the Wildlife Crime Working Group for the police response is 1st August, two and half months from now. That’s just because it’s the editorial deadline for the Group’s annual report, which will feature this failed investigation as an example of how some wildlife crime investigations are still well below the standard required, even high profile cases of national significance such as this one.

Well done to Wildlife & Countryside LINK and especially its Wildlife Crime Working Group for pursuing an explanation about this disgraceful case. But it really shouldn’t be left to environmental NGOs to have to do this – where is the National Wildlife Crime Unit? Where is DEFRA??

5 thoughts on “Wildlife Crime Working Group seeks explanation from Dorset Police about failure to investigate poisoned eagle incident”

  1. ..…good job guys…..a great letter…..and please keep the pressure on the police (…and Loder and his merry men)…to open a full investigation on this tragic case of clear cut illegal poisoning!!!!

  2. Well, I think that’s an excellent response. Make them as uncomfortable as possible: as this case just beggars belief, and stinks to high heaven of people in positions of power influencing an active criminal investigation.

    Perhaps they should be writing similar open letters to DEFRA and the NWCU, and others. I wouldn’t necessarily expect anything other than empty words back, especially from DEFRA, but at least it keeps the pressure on.

  3. Good- This matter needs to be properly resolved with full open and honest transparency into exactly what did take place in Dorset and why.
    It is bad enough that raptor persecution crimes take place in our countryside, and very few of those responsible are ever brought to justice.
    But if justice is being impeded by political and senior management interference then that must be exposed, and any guilty parties face the full penalty of the law for any wrong doing.
    There really needs to be a full independent investigation into the events which took place in Dorset, and I hope some of those effected by what took place eventually decide to report the matter to the IOPC.

  4. Hopefully, this action will embarrass those who should be acting but with the current bunch of Defra ministers, probably not.

  5. Excellent piece by Nick Cole in the current West Dorset magazine on the fate of the local sea eagles. The more light shone on these crimes the better.

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