Peregrine falcon found dead in Peak District over lockdown last year illegally poisoned

A peregrine falcon, which was found dead in Peak District National Park in May last year, has been confirmed as illegally poisoned following recent official toxicology analysis.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 11:54 am

The adult male bird was found dead on a driven grouse moor in the Upper Derwent Valley, adding to the growing list of protected birds of prey illegally killed during 2020’s spring lockdown.

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said the dead bird was found on top of the remains of wood pigeon on May 31 by a fell runner on National Trust and, which was close to a known nest site like those in the Dark Peak, that has a long history of poor breeding success.

The incident was then reported to the Derbyshire police and the body was submitted for government toxicology testing, which confirmed that it was illegally poisoned with the the toxic insecticide bendiocarb, a substance illegally used to kill birds of prey.

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The poisoned peregrine. Picture by Mike Price.

Mark Thomas, Head of RSPB Investigations, said: “This latest incident adds to an appallingly long and growing list of crimes against birds of prey which took place during the first national Covid lockdown in 2020.

"At the time, the RSPB was working flat-out with police to investigate a high volume of incidents, the details of which are now beginning to emerge. It is clear that certain criminals took lockdown as an excuse to ramp up their

efforts to kill birds of prey, wilfully ignoring lockdown and the laws which protect these birds.

“Time and again, we are seeing birds of prey shot, trapped or poisoned on grouse moors. The link between illegal killing of peregrines and other raptor species and driven grouse shooting has never been clearer, and we urge

the UK government to implement a licensing system for grouse moors in England, as is proposed in Scotland.”

RSPB said peer-reviewed studies, crime data, and court convictions show that raptor persecution is more concentrated on and near driven grouse moors, where birds of prey are seen by some as a threat to commercially

managed red grouse stocks.

It is believed that the wood pigeon was a poison bait, laid deliberately with the intention of killing any bird of prey or raven that fed on it.

If you have any information relating to this incident, call Derbyshire Police on 101.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.