Buzzard with severed foot

The police and the RSPB are investigating the illegal killing of two protected birds of prey on the Isle of Wight. The birds, a hobby and a buzzard, were found with horrific injuries in woodland near Littletown. Both had lost a foot as a result of becoming caught in a spring trap.

The buzzard was found dead in March 2018 with a missing foot. The hobby – a small falcon similar to a kestrel – was found alive, also with its foot missing, in September 2018. It was taken to a vet but had to be euthanized.

All wild birds are protected by law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which makes it an offence to intentionally harm them. Anyone found to have done so faces an unlimited fine and/or up to six months in jail.

Police were alerted and the birds were sent for post-mortem examinations. The report concluded: “Both birds suffered traumatic amputations of one lower limb consistent with the affected leg being caught and held in a spring trap”.

Jenny Shelton, from the RSPB’s Investigations unit, said: “Spring traps are sometimes used to catch and kill vermin, and are legal if placed in a tunnel, with a restricted entrance, for this purpose. However spring traps set out in the open are illegal, and pose a huge danger to wildlife. We have had numerous reports over the years of birds of prey being deliberately caught in these brutal devices.

“Birds of prey are incredible creatures and it’s devastating that the lives of these two birds have ended in this way. We are grateful to the people who reported these birds. If you find an injured bird of prey, or come across a metal trap set out in the open or on a pole, call the police on 101 immediately.”

The police conducted searches of the area which included a number of pheasant pens, but no leads were forthcoming.

PC Tim Campany from the Country Watch team said: ““Raptor persecution is a priority of the National Wildlife Crime Unit and will not be tolerated. I would urge anyone with information on suspicious vehicles, persons, or traps located in the Bridlesford area to call us now”.

Hobby with severed foot

If you have any information relating to this incident, call Hampshire Constabulary on 101 quoting crime reference number 44180374840.

If you find a wild bird of prey which you suspect has been illegally killed, contact RSPB investigations on 01767 680551 or fill in the online form.