A number of guns and pesticides have been seized by police as officers investigate the suspected deliberate poisoning of a bird of prey.

Suffolk police's rural crime team launched an investigation following the discovery of a dead common buzzard on land in west Suffolk back in September.

Officers then carried out searches and seized several guns and a quantity of pesticides on Monday in relation to their investigation.

Sergeant Brian Calver, of the rural crime team, said the investigation is ongoing and no further comment about the case could be made at this time.

However, he added that the force often receives reports of birds of prey being illegally killed.

Hen harriers, peregrine falcons, red kites, goshawks and buzzards are just some of the species of birds of prey (raptors) which are targeted in the UK.

All birds of prey are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981).

East Anglian Daily Times: Sgt Brian Calver, from Suffolk police's rural crime teamSgt Brian Calver, from Suffolk police's rural crime team (Image: Archant)

Speaking generally, Sgt Calver said: "It's one of those things that has gone on for a lot of years.

"There's been a lot of work to try and educate people and prevent it but sadly there are some people who still see birds of prey as some kind of enemy.

"We see all too often reports of deliberate poisoning, shooting, trapping - they are the general methods that happen.

"They're all very highly protected birds and some of them are extremely rare, and really struggling to get a foothold as it is."

MORE: Police urge public to act on persecution of birds of prey

Operation Owl was launched in February 2018 by North Yorkshire Police, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) to prevent the persecution of birds of prey in the countryside.

"They've done a lot of good work up north, particularly in North Yorkshire, under Operation Owl to try to educate people and reduce offending rates but one case is far too many in my opinion," Sgt Calver said.

"Sadly, a lot of these we do see, we often can't prove who's involved as most of the time it happens in very remote locations, on private land, well out of sight, out of view."

Sgt Calver also highlighted the dangers around poison baits and urged people who find dead birds of prey in suspicious circumstances to call police.

"The biggest concern around the poisoning side of it is not only the risk to the birds, but if you've got a dog walker out there and someone's got a dog off a lead and it finds one of these dead birds, that will kill the dog equally as quickly as it will kill the bird," he added.

"The stuff that's used to poison these birds is often very high strength poison, it could kill a human, let alone a dog, and that's not me ramping it up. There have been occasions where people's dogs have died after picking up poison baits before so it's a real threat.

"If anybody does find a dead bird of prey in suspicious circumstances in the countryside, call us and whatever you do, don't touch it. People must report it and give us their location because we can recover forensic evidence from it as well."