Two Marsh Harriers and one Red Kite found poisoned in East Anglia

The RSPB and two county police forces have issued a plea for information after the recent deaths of three birds of prey in East Anglia.

Two iconic species – the marsh harrier and red kite – have fallen victim to illegal poisoning by a lethal pesticide, most probably laced on baits left out in the countryside.

Tragically, a breeding pair of marsh harriers was discovered dead adjacent to the RSPB’s Nene Washes Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire in April, followed by a red kite discovered in Old Leake, Boston, Lincolnshire in May.

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Two dead Marsh Harriers: RSPB image

Toxicology tests run by the government’s Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme confirmed that the banned pesticide, Aldicarb, was used to poison all three birds. No one has been found responsible for either offence, and the Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD) who fund the Scheme has now closed its investigations into both incidents.

PC Bradshaw from Cambridgeshire Constabulary commented: “We would urge anyone with information on these or other poisoning cases to come forward and talk to us. It’s absolutely vital that we make sure that this kind of illegal activity targeted at iconic species doesn’t continue to happen in the region.

PC Nick Willey from Lincolnshire Police also commented: “We are committed to working with multi-agencies to stamp out wildlife crime and we will do our best to draw these incidents to a conclusion.”

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Dead Red Kite: RSPB Image

Alan Roberts, Investigative Support Officer from the National Wildlife Crime Unit said: “These are two species that are making a welcome comeback in certain areas of the UK. A lot of people travel to East Anglia because of the diversity of wildlife, which in turn boosts the local economy. The pointless killing of these birds in such an indiscriminate way stands to undermine the hard work of a lot of people. We will continue to strive to seek out and prosecute individuals involved in this sort of offence “

RSPB Senior Investigations Officer, Mark Thomas said: “These are tragic and completely mindless acts of wildlife vandalism. East Anglia was the primary location where the marsh harrier recovered from near extinction some forty years ago, so to think that a breeding pair has been wiped out so close to a nature reserve is sickening.

“The widely sought introduction of custodial offences for the possession of banned pesticides like Aldicarb could happen tomorrow if the Government is serious about protecting birds of prey across the UK.”

If you have any information about these two cases, or other acts of wildlife crime, then please call the Police on 101, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or contact the RSPB Investigations Team on 01767 680551.

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