Wildlife police in south Devon are appealing to members of the community to be vigilant over the next few weeks following a history of bird poisonings which were potentially harmful to the general public. Around this time in 2011 a quarry in the Buckfastleigh area became a target for the attempted poisonings of peregrine falcons.
And prior to 2011 a homing pigeon was wing-clipped and had poison spread upon its back to make an easy target for peregrines to catch and be poisoned.
A breeding pair of peregrines poisoned at a quarry near Buckfastleigh in Devon (2011)
In that instance the pigeon failed to reach its target and was found within a child minder’s garden. Had a child touched the pigeon it could have resulted in serious injury or death.
This year police are asking members of the community around the area of Whitecleave Quarry to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity.
In particular they are advising anyone seeing a pigeon in distress or unable to fly not to approach the bird and to call police or the RSPB immediately.
Police Wildlife Officer PC Josh Marshall explained: “Last year a peregrine falcon was found poisoned within the quarry. It was confirmed to have within its body a banned poison called Carbufuran which is extremely toxic. No doubt having ingested the poison from bait.
“More seriously the banned substance is extremely harmful to humans and could easily kill children or pets from contact.”
PC Marshall said that his warning was two-fold – for people not to touch any birds and also for those who are responsible.
“The falcons are protected species and in killing them anyone found responsible would be prosecuted and could face a fine of up to £5,000 or six months in prison.
“It goes without saying that if serious injury or death to a person were caused, then the penalty would be far more severe. We will be conducting frequent patrols of the area and dealing robustly with any offenders.”
PC Marshall said that he hoped the community of Buckfastleigh and surrounding areas would take some responsibility for helping the protected species.
“These falcons are still fairly rare and having a site of ornithological interest within the quarry is something to be embraced. We hope that local residents will do their bit and keep an eye out for anyone wishing to harm them.”