Marsh harrier - rare bird of prey - found poisoned on Goxhill marshes near Humber
Bird protection organisation the RSPB is offering a £1,000 reward for information leading to a conviction after a marsh harrier was found poisoned on Goxhill marshes.
The dead bird was discovered on top of a large bush by a local bird-watcher who was monitoring a breeding pair of harriers in the area.
The position of the dead bird aroused his suspicion as its spread wings suggested it had fallen from the sky.
The RSPB’s investigations team were alerted about the incident and collected the bird.
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Analysis was undertaken by Natural England under the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS).
The post-mortem found residue of the agricultural pesticide aldicarb, which is often used to illegally kill birds of prey through the lacing of bait.
The marsh harrier is a rare breeding bird of prey with fewer than 400 pairs in the UK.
Habitat loss and persecution almost drove to the marsh harrier to extinction in Britain.
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.
It typically breeds in lowland wetland and farmland and will take a wide variety of prey.
But 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, which had 12 nests this year.
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.”
Today sees the publication of the Environmental Audit Committee’s Wildlife Crime report, which makes a number of recommendations to ensure the protection of birds of prey. A key theme of the report is concern over the misuse of poisons to persecute wildlife, which the committee notes the Government could resolve in weeks.
The RSPB recently published its annual Birdcrime 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.
Anyone with information can contact, RSPB Investigations Officer Mark Thomas on 01767 693 087.
The RSPB is offering a £1,000 reward for information leading to a conviction, following the Goxhill poisoning incident which was discovered on May 27.