In February this year, I blogged about the suspicious deaths of two white-tailed eagles on two separate game-shooting estates – one in Dorset and the other one rumoured to be in West Sussex (see here).
Both eagles were from the Isle of Wight Reintroduction Project – a privately-funded but Government-backed five-year project bringing young sea eagles from Scotland and releasing them on the Isle of Wight to re-establish this species in part of its former range.
[A juvenile white-tailed eagle. Photographer unknown]
The dead eagle found poisoned on an unnamed shooting estate in Dorset remains an ongoing issue of concern, not least because Dorset Police chose to close the investigation prematurely without a proper explanation (see here, and more on that case shortly).
The dead eagle found poisoned on an unnamed shooting estate in West Sussex has received less attention, although in April I revealed this eagle had been poisoned with Bendiocarb and that toxicology results from a dead dog found on the same shooting estate were pending (see here).
The reason this eagle poisoning case has received less attention is simply down to the fact that Sussex Police has failed to publicise the crime, even though it took place seven months ago (Oct 2021)! However, I was pleased to see The Independent picked up the story from this blog, as did The Telegraph, so it did make the national news but we’ve heard nothing more from Sussex Police.
To ensure that Sussex Police doesn’t ‘do a Dorset Police’ and drop this investigation without an explanation, 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 Sussex Police seeking assurance to that effect.
Here’s the letter that was sent last week:
To her absolute credit, Chief Constable Jo Shiner phoned LINK that afternoon to reassure the Wildlife Crime Working Group that the Sussex investigation is very much ongoing and that she understands the need for possible raptor persecution crimes to be looked at closely. I’m told, by people who know these things, that a fast and personal response like this is unheard of.
Compare and contrast Jo Shiner’s response to that of the Chief Constable of Dorset Police, who had also received a letter from LINK (see here) seeking an explanation about the Force’s failure to investigate the poisoned eagle found dead in Dorset. He has yet to reply.
I’m really pleased to see LINK’s Wildlife Crime Working Group applying pressure in these cases to ensure they’re taken seriously by the respective police forces (not that that should even be needed), but should it really be down to wildlife and conservation NGOs to do this? Surely this is what our statutory agencies should be doing? Wilful blindness, writ large, again.