Some birds are devastatingly unlucky.

Today (20/2/2019) Humberside Police issued a press release about a dead buzzard found poisoned in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The bird also had a nasty head wound, still fresh at the time it was picked up. What’s more, after the bird was examined, it was clear it had also survived being shot at an earlier point in its life.

That’s pretty shocking for just one bird.

The buzzard - a female - was found on the roadside by a member of the public on 2 October 2018 between Millington and Huggate in the East Riding of Yorkshire. This is an area that’s popular with walkers, meaning anyone could have easily come into contact with the infected buzzard.

Under X-ray, three bright white dots – shotgun pellets – showed up in the bird’s body. These were old injuries which the bird had survived. The bird also had more recent injuries to its head, which at that time were suspected to have come about by having been caught and confined in a cage trap. However the cause of these have not been confirmed.

With support from RSPB Investigations, the bird was sent for a post mortem examination by an experienced pathologist at SRUC Veterinary Services at Edinburgh. This revealed the presence of food in the bird’s mouth. This food was analysed by SASA and found to contain the banned and highly toxic pesticide, aldicarb. This was previously a professional agricultural pesticide which was banned in 2007. It is now illegal to store or use this product: even having it in your shed could result in an unlimited fine. Aldicarb – which was commonly sold under the brand name ‘Temik’ – is one of several pesticides which are still abused, often sprinkled onto a bait such as a dead rabbit, for the purpose of killing scavenging birds such as red kites, buzzards and carrion crows. If you were found to be using it to kill birds of prey, you’d face jail.

There have been several records of aldicarb being used in the East Riding of Yorkshire, including a dog killed near Market Weighton in 2001, a red kite in 2003 in Pocklington, and three buzzards in Sledmere and Allerthrope in 2012 and 2017. These cases are both illegal and highly irresponsible, and there clearly are some stockpiles of the product being kept in this area. Any animal or human coming into contact with just a few grains of aldicarb could suffer serious injury or death.

Close up of granules containing aldicarb on a rabbit bait - they look a bit like poppy seeds

No bait was found in this instance, and we believe the bird may have been poisoned away from this location. Humberside Police are now appealing for information.

Wildlife and Rural Crime lead Chief Inspector Paul Butler said: “Enquiries have so far failed to identify who is responsible for this crime. The continued use of these chemicals is highly irresponsible and there is no excuse for it whatsoever. Anyone with information about who is using or in possession of aldicarb or other banned substances used in the same manner are encouraged to come forward with information which will be treated with the utmost confidentiality.”

Guy Shorrock, Senior Investigations Officer at the RSPB, added: “There have been a number of incidents in the East Riding involving the poisoning of buzzards and red kites by this highly toxic banned pesticide. We are grateful for police enquires into this latest case and would urge anyone with information to contact them. You can also contact the RSPB in strictest confidence on 0300 999 0101 if you have any information about birds of prey being illegally killed in your area.”

Anyone with information regarding the above incident, illegal use of poison or raptor persecution should call the police on 101 quoting investigation number 16/99978/18. This incident is being dealt with by WCO PC 1529 Day.

And please, please be careful while out and about. If you notice a dead raptor in suspicious circumstances, DO NOT touch but call the police on 101 immediately and report it to us ( Thank you.