poisoned buzzard hung from tree in county down

Poisoned buzzard hung from tree in Co Down

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) are carrying out inquiries after a dead Common Buzzard was found strung up off the Ulster Way in Co Down.

Member of the Legislative Assembly for North Down independent unionist Alex Easton has spoken of his disgust at finding the bird of prey hanging by the neck in a picturesque wooded area along the Ulster Way last Saturday morning. He said police had told him they believe the buzzard was poisoned, then hung up to attract other birds of prey to feed from it, who would also die.

Quoted in the Belfast Telegraph Mr Easton said :

“The PSNI forensic guys think it was poisoned and put there to attract other birds of prey who would themselves be poisoned when they fed from it.

“They told me they had seen the same sort of incident elsewhere in Northern Ireland. They removed the buzzard and are carrying out an investigation. I hope those responsible are caught.

“This beautiful bird should have been left alone to enjoy its life. Other animal life was also put at risk, as the poison could easily have killed a dog.

“I’d never seen a buzzard before. I would have much preferred to view this stunning creature in full flight, not hanging dead from a tree. As a wildlife lover, I believe we should be protecting such birds, not poisoning them.”

All wild birds – including all birds of prey – are protected by law in Northern Ireland under the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985.

The buzzard has been sent for a post-mortem examination and other tests to determine its cause of death, the PSNI said in a statement.

                                                         Buzzard found strung up in Co Down, November 2022

Raptor persecution in Northern Ireland

Just last week The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Northern Ireland (RSPB NI) said that it was seeking to discover the scale of raptor persecution in the region.

It said that the recently published Birdcrime Report 2021 confirmed that between 2016 and 2020 there were 16 poisonings and 11 shootings of birds of prey in Northern Ireland.

Just one confirmed incident took place last year (2021), although the charity believes “many more will have undoubtedly gone undetected and unreported”. It said the single incident reflected a low detection rate and highlighted the need for greater public awareness and reporting of potential crimes.

RSPB NI investigations officer Dean Jones, who was appointed in October 2021 to increase RSPB NI’s understanding of the impact of wildlife crime on some of the country’s priority raptor species, said: “You, the conscientious public, have an important role to play in helping keep our birds of prey safe.

“If you see a dead or dying bird of prey in suspicious circumstances, please report it to the police and myself at the RSPB. Email and I will pick up your request and get back to you.

“If you want to remain anonymous, you can also call the special Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101. Your evidence may be vital in helping us catching wildlife criminals.”

Buzzards frequently targeted

Once very scarce across the UK, conservation work has seen Common Buzzards rebound and they are now our most common bird of prey. However, a rising population has also meant that they are increasingly targeted by shooting estates who think they are now ‘too common’.

In early 2022 Wiltshire gamekeeper Archie Watson was convicted of dumping the corpse of a Buzzard into a covered well on a pheasant-shooting estate, which was later found to be where the bodies of eleven buzzards and four Red Kites had been hidden. And in October 2022, Norfolk gamekeeper Matthew Stroud admitted to the intentional killing of six buzzards and a single Northern Goshawk as well as a string of other offences.