Wildlife Crime Working Group seeks (& receives) assurance from Sussex Police re: poisoned eagle investigation

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.

8 thoughts on “Wildlife Crime Working Group seeks (& receives) assurance from Sussex Police re: poisoned eagle investigation”

  1. I too have done my absolute best to publicise this particular case via social media. Even starting a petition on change.org but with very little interest. I would like to know if this juvenile WTE poisoned in Sussex was G408, the WTE that visited our village on a regular basis until October 2021. With the Dorset case the tag no: of the eagle was identified & published almost immediately and yet we still don’t know which WTE was found poisoned in West Sussex. Sussex Police have also sent me a link for a F.O.I request which I intend to follow up. Any further information you have would be gratefully received

    1. Well done, Alex. if more people showed your commitment to become personally involved following up these cases i am sure that this would help a lot. Thank you.

  2. Indeed, you have to credit Chief Constable Jo Shiner for responding so quickly.
    A terrible crime, that, hopefully, will end with a prosecution.
    Far, far too many raptors are being killed and no-one is being punished.

  3. Well done Wildlife & Countryside Link’s Wildlife Crime Working Group. Well done Sussex Police. Boo to Dorset Police.

    Does anyone know if either the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation or Forestry England have written to the Chief Constables of Dorset or Sussex about their investigations into the deaths of their White-tailed Eagles?

    Does anyone know if either the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation or Forestry England have issued any complaint to Dorset Police about the dropping of the investigation into the death of G461?

    I noticed that Wild Justice, the League Against Cruel Sports, the Institute for Fisheries Management, the Bat Conservation Trust, the Badger Trust and the International Fund for Animal Welfare ALONE co-signed the Wildlife & Countryside LINK’s Wildlife Crime Working Group letter to the Dorset Chief Constable.

    Why have the WWT, Marine Conservation Trust, National Trust, the Born Free organisation, the RSPB, the CPRE, Keep Britain Tidy campaign or the CIEEM (and any other remaining membership organisations) not signed that letter? (No details publicly available for the co-signees of the Sussex letter, yet)

    I’m a member of several of those. Do I have to start complaining to them, as well!

    1. I’d have thought their co-signee status should be covered by them being members of Link? Seems strange for any of them to need to co-sign any letter

      1. It’s standard practice for members of LINK working groups to be asked to sign up to various issues. There are 65 member orgs (the last time I looked) so it’d be unusual if every organisation agreed with one another on everything.

        Having said that, absence of an organisational sign-up doesn’t necessarily indicate disagreement with the issue at hand. An absence may have been caused by something as simple as the organisation’s rep on the Working Group being away, on holiday, snowed under etc.

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