Warning over bird poisoning

A common buzzard
A common buzzard

A NEW report reveals that rare birds of prey have been killed in the Garstang and Longridge area by baits laced with deadly poisons.

The act of killing any wildlife by poison bait was outlawed exactly 100 years ago by the Protection of Animals Act 1911.

But a new report published this week by the RSPB, shows that the practice remains a major problem for this area’s birds of prey.

The RSPB Birdcrime 2010 report shows that in March last year there were two confirmed cases near Garstang of buzzards being poisoned by the agricultural pesticide Alphachloralose, while it also highlights an attempted shooting of a peregrine falcon in the same month in Bowland.

Overall the RSPB say there were 128 reports of illegal poisoning in the UK, and the early figures for this year suggest a similar pattern. In 2010, 20 red kites, 30 buzzards, two goshawks, eight peregrines, five golden eagles, one white-tailed eagle and one sparrowhawk were found poisoned nationally.

Based on the shocking findings, the RSPB is calling on the UK government to outlaw the possession of these poisons in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Scottish Government has already put such measures in place.

Martin Harper is the Conservation Director of the RSPB. He said: “It has been illegal to poison birds of prey since 1911. But in a bizarre quirk, it is not illegal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for individuals to possess some of the most deadly poisons, even though they have no legitimate use for them.”

The list of chemicals used to illegally poison birds of prey includes a host of agricultural pesticides, such as Carbofuran, Alphachloralose and Bendiocarb.

The poisoner will usually douse the carcass of a pheasant, rabbit or a pigeon with the poison and leave the bait in a place where a bird of prey is likely to find it.

The previous Government accepted in 2006 that it was sensible to make it illegal for unauthorised people to possess these poisons, but despite the law being in place, the Government hasn’t listed the banned pesticides.

The RSPB is calling for the law to be enacted, which prevents individuals from having named poisons in their possession if they have no legal use for them.

Martin Harper added: “If this Government is serious about tackling illegal persecution of birds of prey, it really needs to start taking meaningful action.’’

The report shows the highest number of reported incidents against birds of prey and owls was 54 in North Yorkshire, followed by 12 reported incidents in Lancashire.