Multi-agency raid in Lincolnshire after suspected poisoning of three birds of prey

Press release from Lincolnshire Police (6th October 2022):

Bird of prey poisoned, Horncastle

Our Rural Crime Action Team (RCAT) are investigating the suspected poisoning of three birds of prey in the Belchford area of Horncastle. 

On 4 October, the team conducted multi agency searches in the area along with officers from the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU), the RSPB and Natural England. During the searches we recovered various items which we believe are linked to the offences under investigation. The offences include the suspected poisoning of three birds, two Buzzards and one Red Kite. 

Inspector Jason Baxter, from Lincolnshire Special Operations Unit, said: “Lincolnshire police will not tolerate the persecution of our wildlife and any offences reported to us will be thoroughly and expeditiously investigated and offenders will be dealt with robustly.”

Investigations are ongoing and we have identified one male suspect who will be interviewed in due course.

Investigating officer, Detective Constable Aaron Flint said: “A number of Birds of Prey appear to have been poisoned in the Horncastle area.

We would appeal for anyone with any information to contact us.”

If any members of the public have information that could assist with the investigation please call 101, email force.control@lincs.police.uk or through crime stoppers. Please remember to quote incident number 22000367672.

ENDS

Well done Lincolnshire Police, Natural England, RSPB and the National Wildlife Crime Unit for yet another excellent example of partnership-working between specialist agencies, and especially for issuing a statement/appeal for information just two days after the raid. I hope some of the other regional police forces are taking note.

This latest multi-agency raid is the latest in a surge of similar investigations in response to raptor persecution crimes over the last couple of years, including a raid in Wiltshire on 23rd September 2020 (here), a raid in Suffolk on 18th January 2021 (here), a raid in January 2021 in Nottinghamshire (here), on 15th March 2021 another raid in Lincolnshire (see here), on 18th March 2021 a raid in Dorset (here), on 26th March 2021 a raid in Devon (see here), on 21st April 2021 a raid in Teesdale (here), on 2nd August 2021 a raid in Shropshire (here), on 12th August 2021 a raid in Herefordshire (here), on 14th September 2021 a raid in Norfolk (here), a raid in Wales in October 2021 (here) a raid in Humberside on 10th December 2021 (here), a raid in North Wales on 8th February 2022 (here), another raid in Suffolk on 22nd April 2022 (here), and another raid in Norfolk on 29th April 2022 (here).

The majority of these cases are ongoing, or have progressed to impending court hearings, but a few have concluded, resulting in the conviction of criminal gamekeepers. These include:

*The Nottinghamshire case (from January 2021) where gamekeeper John Orrey was sentenced in January 2022 for battering to death two buzzards he’d caught inside a trap (here);

*The Suffolk case (also from January 2021) where gamekeeper Shane Leech was convicted of firearms and pesticides offences in November 2021 after the discovery of a poisoned buzzard found close to pheasant-rearing pens in Lakenheath (here);

*The Wales case (from October 2021) where gamekeeper David Matthews was convicted in June 2022 for pesticide offences following the discovery of a poisoned red kite and a shot red kite at a pheasant release pen on the McAlpine Estate in Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, North Wales (see here);

*The Wiltshire case (from September 2020) where gamekeeper Archie Watson was convicted in June 2022 after the discovery of at least 15 dead buzzards and red kites were found dumped in a well on a pheasant shoot on Galteemore Farm in Beckhampton (here);

*The Norfolk case (from September 2021) where gamekeeper Matthew Stroud was convicted in October 2022 for the poisoning of at least five buzzards and a goshawk, amongst other offences, on a pheasant shoot at Weeting, near Thetford (here).

9 thoughts on “Multi-agency raid in Lincolnshire after suspected poisoning of three birds of prey”

  1. Please please send this offender to prison to punish him and to start deterring others from doing this, otherwise this killing of our raptors will just continue and probably increase. The three raptors found poisoned in this case will just be the birds that have been found, there will be many others that are out there in the Lincolnshire Wolds that have died and won’t be found or are still alive but suffering a very painful cruel death. This area is littered with game shoots so I doubt any other birds found will be reported and I doubt this is the only case of persecution in the Lincolnshire countryside!! We’ve only just welcomed Red Kites back into the area so please please leave them alone!!

    1. Hi Simon,

      It’s a bit premature to call for this person to be sent to prison; he’s currently just a suspect! I understand and share your frustration but there’s a need to be careful during the early stages of an investigation.

  2. Death by poison must be one of the most painful , prolonged, and terrifying ways to die. It’s a form of premeditated torture.

  3. Yes, Well done to Lincolnshire Police. Lets now hope magistrates and judges do their part effectively.
    I would like to see a National Wildlife Crime force, split between the County and City Forces, but with an overall Commissioner’s Office to drive it forward. Perhaps it would bring some better sentencing and equality of reactions overall

    1. I agree where you are coming from, but personally I would like it to be done a bit different. I would like to see “raptor persecution” split away completely from general “wildlife crime” and not run by each county force from it’s pool of overstretched local officers. Raptor persecution is a very different type of crime to coursing & badger baiting. There are some good examples of county forces getting stuck in to raptor persecution, we see many examples on this blog. However there are others that are compromised from the beginning. To clamp down on the poaching / coursing, air rifle yobs, etc local officers are often obliged to work hand in hand in ‘partnership working ‘ with the very individual keepers that they ought to be investigating closely for raptor persecution! I see this myself when they put out PR things on social media and they are all photographed standing together looking chuffed about catching some lurcher boys or recovering a stolen quad, etc. And I think…do they (the police) even suspect what many other people know that he (keeper Mr XYZ, standing next to them) gets up to in his typical week? The case for “local police” knowing their area doesn’t always hold for me, as reading the signs is a bit specialised and most officers can’t be expected to become SME’s in everything. I would rather see a small independant team of specialist police moving from county to county, being briefed and advised as they go by RSPB Investigations.

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