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Joint Investigation Following Death of Rare Bird of Prey, Goxhill, North Lincolnshire

November 22, 2012, 2:55 pm

A joint investigation has been launched following the death of a rare bird of prey in on the banks of the River Humber near Goxhill in North Lincolnshire.

The dead marsh harrier, which had taken poison, was discovered on top of a large bush on 27 May 2012 by a local bird watcher who was monitoring a breeding pair of marsh harriers in the area.

The position of the dead bird aroused his suspicion as its spread wings suggested it had fallen from the sky.

Humberside Police, the RSPB and Natural England have been working together to investigate the incident.

Sergeant Howard Garlick from Brigg Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “This is one of the more unusual incidents that police are called to investigate. Whilst it is not one of our regular priorities, all reasonable steps will be taken to investigate this matter and prevent further loss of these rare birds.”

Mark Thomas, RSPB Senior Investigations Officer said: “This is another appalling example of the crimes which continue to be committed against birds of prey.

“Poisoning is a particularly insidious method of persecution both because it causes the bird great suffering and also because it is so indiscriminate.”

Tony Bird, Lead Wildlife Adviser at Natural England said: “All birds of prey are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Offences carry a maximum fine of £5,000 and/or a term of six months imprisonment.”

Inspector Nevin Hunter of the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit said: “Tackling the illegal persecution of birds of prey is a UK Wildlife crime priority.

“The public must take this seriously as the indiscriminate nature of poisoning and the types of poisons used pose a real threat not just to wildlife, but also to companion animals such as dogs and people.

“We will work hard to support Humberside Police with this investigation and ensure that any opportunity is taken to bring those involved to justice. Some one must know who is involved with this – please let us know.”

The RSPB recently published its annual Bird Crime report, detailing illegal bird of prey incidents in 2011. It revealed that last year the wildlife charity received a hundred reports of illegal poisoning incidents across the UK.

The marsh harrier is a rare breeding bird of prey with fewer than 400 breeding pairs in the UK. Habitat loss and persecution almost drove to the marsh harrier to extinction in the UK. In 1971 there was only one pair left in the whole of Britain but the population has started to recover well in the last 40 years.

The marsh harrier typically breeds in lowland wetland and farmland and will take a wide variety of prey. Like many other birds of prey it continues to suffer from illegal persecution.

Most of the population is based in eastern and south east England with a few pairs also breeding on the east coast in Scotland. Their local breeding stronghold is RSPB Blacktoft, near Goole.

Anyone with any information concerning this or similar incidents is asked to contact Sgt Garlick at Brigg Police station on the non emergency number 101.

101 – The police non-emergency number

101 is the number to call when you want to contact your local police in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland – when it’s less urgent than a 999 call.
Find out more information about 101 by following this link.

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