Buzzard found in Yorkshire confirmed poisoned – comment.

Poisoned buzzard found on log at the roadside in Angus and claimed to have been ‘planted’

Close-up of the poisoned buzzard. Maybe it had indeed been ‘planted’ to create trouble.

The following was published today by Teesside Live and by other Yorkshire media.


‘A buzzard found dead on a North York Moors dry stone wall had been poisoned, tests have confirmed.

North Yorkshire Police is appealing for information after toxicology tests showed the buzzard died of suspected chloralose poisoning.

The bird of prey was found on January 29, 2018 on top of a dry-stone wall, next to a layby on the Kildale to Commondale road near Percy Rigg.

It was found by a member of the public, who reported it to the RSPB and North Yorkshire Police.

Officers say the area is very public, and it is unlikely the bird died where it was found, but appears to have been placed onto the wall deliberately.

The bird was collected and no obvious signs of trauma were found. An x-ray revealed no signs of injury.

Toxicology tests (show?) it was probably poisoned by chloralose – more commonly used to kill mice.

Sergeant Stuart Grainger, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “Sadly, as a county, we have more confirmed incidents of raptor persecution than any other county in England – a situation North Yorkshire Police is absolutely determined to tackle.

“It is saddening that this magnificent bird has been poisoned. I would urge anyone with any information about this incident.” (to do what?)

Jenny Shelton, RSPB investigations liaison officer, said: “Raptor persecution is a serious, ongoing issue affecting some of our most incredible birds of prey.

“Our UK population of buzzards dropped during the 20th century largely due to illegal killing, and it’s alarming that these practices are continuing even today.

“This was a despicable and deliberate act. If you have any information, please speak out.”

Contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, quoting reference number 12180127114. Or to speak in confidence about the incident, or any raptor persecution, call the RSPB Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 9990101’.


The additions in parenthesis are mine as they are missing from the article.

I can’t understand why it took from January until October either to get the results of the pesticide analysis or, having got it earlier, to release an appeal for information months later. It seems to take much longer in England for the police to get an analysis than it does in Scotland. I’m not so sure of the procedure south of the border but in Scotland a suspected victim of pesticide abuse would either be taken direct to Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture by the police officer in the case, or to a vet lab for samples to be taken and sent to SASA. Neither route normally takes longer than two or three days. If the officer or the veterinary pathologist can give a clue to SASA as to which pesticide was involved then a result might follow a few days later. If not, then a result might take a month to come through but seldom longer.

I’m not clear either why the first line of the news item states the bird was poisoned, yet the second line indicates the poison is only suspected to have been chloralose. There may be good reason for this uncertainty but it’s something I’ve never encountered.  Despite the uncertainty both the police and the RSPB are of the view that raptor persecution is involved so they are satisfied that a crime has been committed.

For an allegedly poisoned bird to be found on top of a wall next to a lay-by on a public road suggests that this will be almost impossible to solve. It is a classic example of why so few raptor poisonings result in a court case, and even less in a successful prosecution. The bird may have died anywhere and been brought to the location where it was found.

A comment to another newspaper stated,

‘More likely that a mouse was poisoned and the buzzard ate the dead mouse’.

Proprietary mouse poison containing chloralose is of a very low purity, probably around 5%, whereas chloralose used illegally against wildlife can be up to 100% pure. Chloralose kills by lowering the body temperature and the victim dies of hypothermia. A buzzard eating a mouse that had died from proprietary chloralose is extremely unlikely to be affected. Chloralose is unlike some mouse and rat poisons containing chemicals such as bromadiolone, difenacoum or brodifacoum that can gradually build up in the body of a predator or scavenger that eats them and eventually kill it through secondary poisoning. I have, however, seen a hooded crow affected by secondary chloralose. The circumstances were that a buzzard had been poisoned by high purity chloralose and the body had been predated by a hooded crow. We picked them both up to be sent for pesticide testing. The hooded crow appeared to be dead but recovered in the heat of the police car and was released, while the buzzard was taken for testing.

Getting back to the North Yorkshire incident, I wish the police the best of luck with this one.

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