Pets at Risk of Being Poisoned, says RSPB

Is your pet safe over this holiday askes the RSPB? The RSPB, The Kennel Club, the Feline Advisory Bureau and the Dogs Trust are alerting pet owners to the fact that over the last 10 years, at least 56 dogs and 22 cats are known to have suffered from pesticide abuse instances. In most cases illegally poisoned baits would have been placed in the countryside for killing wildlife, including birds of prey. However, the indiscriminate nature of these crimes has resulted in many pets being the unintended victims.

 [singlepic id=407 w=540 h=408 float= centre]

In 2011 7 protected raptors were found poisoned in Deven, the birds found included a breeding pair of peregrines, 4 goshaws and 1 buzzard.

The organisations are warning the public to be aware of poisoned baits being left to kill wildlife but which pets can encounter. Dog walkers and cat owners living in rural areas particularly need to be aware of the issue.

Martin Harper is the RSPB’s Conservation Director. He said: “To lose a pet is heart-breaking, but it must be unbearable to know that a pet has died because someone callously wanted to kill foxes or birds of prey and that your companion was just an unintended casualty in the war on predators.”

Employees on rogue shooting estates will illegally douse rabbit or pheasant carcasses with poisons. These poisoned baits are then carelessly left out in areas where foxes or birds of prey may take the bait, with the inevitable consequences. The use of poisoned baits was outlawed in 1911, but the practice still continues illegally.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary said: “Behind every one of these incidents is a tragic story, which could have been avoided. Whether it’s a red kite or a red setter, there are too many victims of illegal poisoning and it’s time for the law to change. We urge dog owners to avoid letting their dogs go out of sight when they are out for a walk, so that they can try and prevent them from picking up potential poisoned bait.”

Claire Bessant of the Feline Advisory Bureau, said: “We believe that too many pets and threatened species have died and it’s time this deplorable practice was brought to an end.”

Dogs Trust Veterinary Director Paula Boyden added: “Illegal baiting is a despicable practice that causes unimaginable suffering to wildlife and domestic pets. Should a pet owner have any suspicions that their animal has eaten something that might be toxic; they should call their vet for immediate advice.

“Although it is not always easy to do when walking a dog off-lead in rural areas, we strongly recommend that you prevent your dog from scavenging on animal remains and ideally encourage them to leave carcasses alone.”

The RSPB is campaigning for a list of the most widely-abused and lethal poisons to be added to the legislation, so that only those with a legitimate use for them can have them in their possession.

Jeff Knott, the RSPB’s bird of prey policy officer, said: “It is illegal to poison a bird of prey, but in a bizarre quirk, it is not illegal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for individuals to possess some of the most deadly poisons capable of killing these species, even though they have no legitimate need to possess them.

“Currently it is only a crime to use these poisons to kill wildlife, but by making it an offence to hold stockpiles of these chemicals, we believe we can lower the threat to wildlife and pets.”

The previous Government accepted in 2006 that it was sensible to make it illegal for unauthorised people to possess these poisons, but despite the law being in place, the Government hasn’t listed the banned pesticides. This is despite the controls being in place in Scotland since 2005, where police find it a very useful tool in the fight against wildlife crime as 10 convictions have already been secured. The RSPB is asking the Government to add a list of chemicals to Section 43.

The RSPB Birdcrime 2010 report reveals there were 128 reports of illegal poisoning in the UK, and the early figures for this year suggest a similar pattern. In 2010, 20 red kites, 30 buzzards, two goshawks, eight peregrines, five golden eagles, one white-tailed eagle and one sparrowhawk were found poisoned in the UK. The RSPB believes that the number of recorded incidents is way below the actual number.

1 comment to Pets at Risk of Being Poisoned, says RSPB