You might have seen the news that four goshawks and one buzzard were found dead of poisoning in woodland west of Exeter, Devon. With only 410 pairs of nesting goshawks in the UK, and only 20 pairs of Devon goshawks, this is a saddening story all round.
After initial toxicology reports, it emerged that the poison used was carbofuran, which as a banned substance could help the police to narrow down its source. Carbofuran is frequently used in bird poisonings according to the RSPB. In addition however it is also lethal to dogs and humans, and its use on public land is particularly worrying, and hugely irresponsible.
The police haven’t released any comments as to the reason for the birds being poisoned, but often fingers are pointed at gamekeepers for whom birds of prey pose a financial threat. This is commonly observed in Scotland where grouse shooting is worth £240m a year to the economy. As a result there are numerous stories over the years of birds of prey poisoned to prevent them getting to the grouse or other game. There are numerous game shoots around Devon but it’s too early to start blaming anyone in particular.
Nonetheless, it’s important that we do what we can to stop this sort of behaviour. You can pledge support to prevent the killing of birds of prey at the RSPB site. They have also offered a £1000 reward for information leading to the conviction of those who took part in poisoning the birds.
If you have any information, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, or email Devon & Cornwall Police Wildlife Crime Officer P.C. Josh Marshall at Joshua.MARSHALL2@devonandcornwall.pnn.police.uk