Dead buzzard found hanging from a tree in County Down

A dead buzzard has been found hanging from a tree in County Down.

The bird was discovered last Saturday (19th November 2022) in woodland near Clandeboye on the Ulster Way by independent unionist Alex Easton MLA, who was walking his dog. He notified the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) who sent out a forensic team the next day.

Photographs from the scene show the dead buzzard, tied by its neck to the tree by what looks like a plastic bag:

There’s some very odd media coverage of this story in the Belfast Telegraph, where Alex Easton is quoted as saying:

The PSNI forensic guys think it was poisoned and put there to attract other birds of prey who would themselves be poisoned when they fed from it.

They told me they had seen the same sort of incident elsewhere in Northern Ireland. They removed the buzzard and are carrying out an investigation. I hope those responsible are caught.

This beautiful bird should have been left alone to enjoy its life. Other animal life was also put at risk, as the poison could easily have killed a dog.

I’d never seen a buzzard before. I would have much preferred to view this stunning creature in full flight, not hanging dead from a tree. As a wildlife lover, I believe we should be protecting such birds, not poisoning them.”

To be clear, there isn’t any evidence yet that the buzzard has been poisoned and even if it had, hanging it from a tree ‘to attract other birds of prey who would themselves be poisoned when they fed from it’ is the oddest suggestion and demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of how raptors forage.

The statement from a PSNI spokesperson, as quoted in the paper, is much more circumspect and appropriate under the circumstances:

Police in Bangor recovered a dead buzzard from the Ulster Way area, Clandeboye Road, on Saturday, November 19, following a report from a member of the public.

The bird has been sent for a post-mortem examination and other tests to determine its cause of death. Enquiries are ongoing.”

Alex Easton did the right thing by notifying the police to investigate. If anyone has any information that could assist the inquiry the PSNI crime reference number is 695/19/11/22.

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