Dead birds of prey found in Dorset

Dead bird of prey small

Published at 7:50am 24th July 2018.

There's concern that birds of prey are being targeted in Dorset after two were found dead.

The bodies of a buzzard and a barn owl have been discovered close to Melplash.

The buzzard was taken to a nearby vets, where an X-ray revealed the presence of a piece of shot in the bird's skull, which is believed to be the cause of death.

A barn owl was also found dead in suspicious circumstances under its nest box, though the body was too decomposed to determine cause of death.

Barn Owl at Lorton

There are also previous reports of another dead barn owl and a number of dead buzzards in this area, though the bodies were not recovered for testing.

Local enquiries by Dorset Police have not uncovered any leads so far, and they are appealing to the public for information.

Birds of prey and owls are protected by law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which makes it an offence to intentionally harm them.

Anyone found to have shot or killed these birds faces an unlimited fine and/or up to six months in jail.

Tony Whitehead from RSPB South West Regional Office said: "The deliberate persecution of birds of prey is not only brutal but illegal. Raptors are an essential part of a healthy ecosystem, not to mention a glorious sight to see. We are grateful to the member of the public who took the trouble to report these incidents and we urge anyone with information to come forward."

 

'Raptor Crime Hotline'

The RSPB has set up a confidential 'Raptor Crime Hotline' to give whistleblowers a chance to speak out in confidence and help end this culture of criminality.

Claire Dinsdale of Dorset Police's Rural Crime Team said: "Raptor persecution is one of the UK Wildlife Crime Priorities which includes poisoning, shooting, trapping, habitat destruction and nest destruction or disturbance. There is a clear responsibility with legitimate firearm users to accurately identify the species before any shot is taken. It is totally unacceptable to act outside the law and shoot these protected birds. I would urge anyone with any information to speak to us or the RSPB in confidence."

 

'Do you have information that can help?'

If you have any information relating to this incident, please call Dorset Police online in confidence at www.dorset.police.uk/do-it-online and quote reference 55180073229. Or contact the RSPB's confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101.

 

'What to do if you find a dead bird of prey'

If you find a wild bird which you suspect has been illegally killed, contact RSPB investigations on 01767 680551 or fill in the online form: https://www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/our-positions-and-campaigns/positions/wildbirdslaw/reportform.aspx

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