The internal affairs of the Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative are not something we would usually publicly comment on.
However, the annual report is being discussed once again and we are in a position where clear evidence of persecution is not being considered, and more worryingly untruths are being shared.
This should of course be an internal conversation; however, an email has been circulated by an individual representing a shooting organisation and copied into this email correspondence is at least one individual who is not directly involved in the Bird of Prey Initiative. This has caused us serious concerns. Some of the comments in that email are at best incorrect and some of the other comments (not the subject of this blog) could be considered slanderous to the identifiable individual. We believe this is a direct attempt to redirect the focus away from illegal raptor persecution.
It is the issue of the clear evidence of crime that is the subject of this blog.
On the 14th of April 2019, two members of the raptor group discovered a dead Buzzard in the Longdendale Valley near Tintwistle. They considered the death of the Buzzard to be suspicious due to finding a part-eaten gamebird and a dead wood mouse at the scene (mice are omnivores and will eat almost anything).
The finders called another member of the Raptor Group for advice and it was suggested that they should ring RSPB investigations. The RSPB attended quickly and sent the Buzzard, the mouse and the partridge remains to the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS)* and informed Derbyshire Police.
Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group are not party to the police response to this incident, but it is noteworthy that this poisoned bird and the poisoned bait (for that is what the WIIS quarterly report states) don’t appear to have been the subject of a public appeal for information. There also doesn’t appear to have been any public warning that there has been a poisoning incident in an area where families and dog walkers are often seen.
This is not the first poisoning incident involving Alpha Chloralose in the valley in recent years.
WIIS publish a quarterly report of their findings and it is from this document that we can find a few more details:
It appears from the email circulated that the case was closed prior to the groups previous meeting, to quote the email:
“Regarding the Buzzard, this was discussed at the last meeting and after a conference call with the lead officer involved with the case he confirmed that the case was now closed and categorised as suspicious. The death could be equally be (sic) associated with a legitimate rodent control programme, and so it could be attributed to secondary poisoning definitely not “illegal persecution” which infers with to some kind of foul play that will yet again be laid at the door of gamekeepers. Without a PM on the mouse we will never know”.
Secondary poisoning occurs when an animal containing traces of poison is consumed by another.
This clearly is not a case of secondary poisoning, we have seen a document from WIIS that states “It appears that the abuse of chloralose, using a bird bait, has occurred at this location and at least one buzzard has been poisoned”.
Hopefully this clears up the incident which was misrepresented in the circulated email, and those that were copied into said email have the opportunity to learn the correct facts of the case before they repeat them too often. We believe that the other comments in the email are being looked into legally.
*The Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) is a government agency who investigate the deaths of wildlife, pet animals and beneficial invertebrates in the UK if there is evidence to suggest that they may have been poisoned or put at risk by pesticides.