Bird of prey poisonings: public at risk, says Lincolnshire Police

Aaron Flint, a wildlife crime officer from Lincolnshire Police, has warned of the risk to humans, dogs and cats from poisons used to illegally kill birds of prey.

Detective Constable Aaron Flint, from the Lincolnshire Police Rural Crime Action Team, has featured in an article published on the BBC News website. The article makes clear how widespread the illegal poisoning of birds of prey is, and the danger not only to the birds that are being targeted but potentially to members of the public and companion animals.

Det Con Aaron Flint, who has twenty years experience with Lincolnshire Police, says that he is currently investigating four cases of raptor poisoning, and that “offending [is] often fuelled by money”.

The same article also quotes the RSPB’s Howard Jones, a highly experienced investigations officer, who makes clear that (as Protect the Wild repeatedly states) the “vast majority” of raptor poisoning cases being dealt with by the courts involves gamekeepers (who are employed by the bird shooting industry to kill any predator they think might take ‘their’ pheasants, partridges, and grouse – see ‘The Killing Continues: Shooting industry driving raptor persecution‘).

In relation to a 2020 poisoning case also in Lincolnshire, Detective Constable Flint said: “Raptor Persecution is one of the UK’s National wildlife crime priorities and is taken very seriously by Lincolnshire Police. These offences will always be dealt with expeditiously and robustly. Deliberate killing of birds of prey is an offence which I urge the public to report if they become aware of it.

I would like to add, that if a bird of prey is found dead and you believe it is suspicious it should be reported to the police immediately to allow an investigation into its death to commence.  Providing the police with the What3words location would be extremely useful when reporting an incident”.

As we have detailed in our species accounts for Common Buzzard, Red Kite, and Hen Harrier, gamekeepers routinely illegally kill birds of prey by shooting, poisoning, or trapping them (see for example ‘Yet more dead buzzards and yet another gamekeeper in court‘ from earlier this year).

Many raptor species, including Common Buzzards and Red Kites, are only now recovering after decades of persecution. It is not up to gamekeepers and the shooting industry to decide what or how many birds of prey live in the countryside, and Protect the Wild applauds Det Con Flint for unequivocally putting the blame for raptor poisoning on shooting and its employees.

Laying poisons across the countryside is a serious crime. Shooting has had decades to purge the so-called ‘rotten apples’ from its own ranks. The only option now is to shut it down entirely.




Poisons being left by criminals to kill birds of prey could result in a human fatality, police and wildlife officials have said.

The RSPB has described Lincolnshire as “a national hotspot” for the persecution of birds of prey.

Incidents are often linked to the birds being targeted to protect pheasants and partridges raised for organised shoots.

“The danger with poisons is that they are completely indiscriminate,” Howard Jones from the RSPB said.

The investigations officer said they had seen a record number of incidents across the UK in recent years, including in Norfolk, Dorset and Yorkshire, with a significant number of reports currently being investigated in Lincolnshire.

According to Mr Jones, the “vast majority” of cases being dealt with by the courts involved gamekeepers.

He said the motivation to kill birds of prey was driven by the fact they were viewed as a predator of game birds, but the sentences handed out were often too lenient to act as a deterrent.

Cases involving poisons or illegal shooting should result in a jail sentence, he said.

“If there is someone out there placing poison baits in the open countryside anything that can come into contact with the poison is at risk,” he said.

“It is highly dangerous – some of the substances being used would be fatal to humans,” he added.

In 2020, the charity reported that a dead buzzard found on moorland in North Yorkshire had enough poison in it to “kill a child”.

Det Con Aaron Flint, wildlife officer with Lincolnshire Police, said he was currently investigating four cases of bird poisoning.

“It’s too many and it’s only a small proportion of the number of birds killed,” he said.

The wildlife officer said the substances used posed a real danger to dogs and cats, as well as people.

“I honestly think that one day we are going to have a human fatality.”

“Often the offenders will get a pigeon or a pheasant – cut it open and rip out the flesh so the meat is exposed and sprinkle on some poison.

“The poisons are often blue or green – or some other bright colour a child may be attracted to, and I really fear that one day a child is going to come across this, [touch it] and put their fingers in their mouth.”

He said those involved often used poison in an attempt to protect game birds, pigeons and chickens and wild fowl, with offending often fuelled by money.

It comes after several dead birds were found dumped in a ditch near Sleaford.

Det Con Flint said the birds were discovered alongside two dead magpies as well as a leg of lamb in cellophane wrapping.

He described it as an “unusual” case and appealed for witnesses.

(‘Bird of prey poisonings pose risk to people say Lincolnshire Police‘ BBC News Lincolnshire 10 Jan 2023)