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 firstname.lastname@example.org or through crime stoppers. Please remember to quote incident number 22000367672.
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).