Dead birds of prey spark concerns in Dorset

Dead birds of prey spark concerns in Dorset

Caption: Dead buzzard (pictured) and dead barn owl spark concerns of a local persecution problem in Dorset.

Crime, Environment | Posted: Monday, July 23rd, 2018 at 4:23 pm | return to news

Dead birds of prey spark concerns in Dorset

A shot buzzard and dead barn owl have sparked concerns of a local persecution problem in Dorset.

Dead birds of prey spark concerns in Dorset

Caption: Dead buzzard (pictured) and dead barn owl spark concerns of a local persecution problem in Dorset.

Following the deaths of a buzzard and a barn owl in Melplash, Dorset earlier this year, police officers and the RSPB are appealing for information.

It is believed the buzzard died after being shot as an X-ray revealed the presence of a piece of shot in the raptor’s skull. The barn owl was also found dead in suspicious circumstances under its nest box. Unfortunately its body was too decomposed to determine the cause of death.

There are also previous reports of another dead barn owl and a number of dead buzzards in this area, though the bodies were not recovered for testing.

Local enquiries by Dorset Police have not uncovered any leads so far, and they are appealing to the public for information.

Birds of prey and owls are protected by law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which makes it an offence to intentionally harm them. Anyone found to have shot or killed these birds faces an unlimited fine and/or up to six months in jail.

Claire Dinsdale of Dorset Police’s Rural Crime Team said, “Raptor persecution is one of the UK Wildlife Crime Priorities which includes poisoning, shooting, trapping, habitat destruction and nest destruction or disturbance. There is a clear responsibility with legitimate firearm users to accurately identify the species before any shot is taken. It is totally unacceptable to act outside the law and shoot these protected birds. I would urge anyone with any information to speak to us or the RSPB in confidence.”

Tony Whitehead from RSPB South West Regional Office said, “The deliberate persecution of birds of prey is not only brutal, but illegal. Raptors are an essential part of a healthy ecosystem, not to mention a glorious sight to see. We are grateful to the member of the public who took the trouble to report these incidents and we urge anyone with information to come forward.”

He explained that illegal persecution of birds of prey is a widespread and unrelenting problem, which continues to affect the conservation status of some raptor species in the UK. As a result, the RSPB has set up a confidential ‘Raptor Crime Hotline’ to give whistleblowers a chance to speak out in confidence and help end this culture of criminality.

If you have any information relating to this incident, please call Dorset Police online in confidence at www.dorset.police.uk/do-it-online and quote reference 55180073229, or contact the RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101.

If you find a wild bird which you suspect has been illegally killed, contact RSPB investigations on 01767 680551 or fill in the online form: https://www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/our-positions-and-campaigns/positions/wildbirdslaw/reportform.aspx

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