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Investigation after at least one buzzard found dead in Suffolk woodland

PUBLISHED: 15:11 26 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:49 26 February 2018

A captive common buzzard - police are investigating the shooting of at least one wild common buzzard that was found dead in a Suffolk wood along with another of its species. Picture: ARCHANT

A captive common buzzard - police are investigating the shooting of at least one wild common buzzard that was found dead in a Suffolk wood along with another of its species. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Police are investigating the shooting of at least one common buzzard - a legally protected bird of prey - that was found dead in a Suffolk wood.

A common buzzard takes to the East Anglian skies. Picture: STEVE PLUMEA common buzzard takes to the East Anglian skies. Picture: STEVE PLUME

Two buzzard corpses were reported to Suffolk Constabulary’s wildlife crime team in an incident described by naturalists as “appalling and abhorrent.” The bodies were found in woodland known as Little Carr, “on the edge of a shooting estate” on the banks of the River Dove, near Hoxne, the team’s Sgt Brian Calver said yesterday.

The discovery was reported by “a person with shooting rights”, but when a police officer visited the site only one corpse could be found. It was believed that the birds died in January, he said.

“At first it was thought the bird that was found may have died as a result of poisoning but analysis of X-rays has proven that the bird was shot. We are in the process of looking into this and we will be as absolutely thorough in our investigations, as we are with all wildlife crime - and we will be trying to secure a prosecution,” said Sgt Calver.

He urged members of the public who discovered any bird of prey corpse in the countryside to report their find and its exact location to police. Any corpse should not be handled, because of the risk of poison being involved, but photographic evidence would be helpful, he added.

Gi Grieco, chairman of the 400-strong Suffolk Ornithologists’ Group, said the latest persecution case was “appalling and abhorrent.”

“The illegal persecution of birds of prey on the grouse moors of upland Britain is a well-documented, ongoing and major conservation issue but cases such as this latest one in Suffolk - which is certainly not the first of its kind - shows that this illegal activity is also a problem in lowland Britain,” said Mr Grieco.

“This is a disgraceful incident and we hope that the police investigation results in a prosecution that ends with the appropriate penalty imposed on the perpetrator.”

The site of the incident is in Waveney Bird Club’s catchment area and club founder Steve Piotrowski, the author of The Birds of Suffolk, said: “This is yet another upsetting case of raptor persecution. It’s a shame that countryside thugs are tarnishing the name of the shooting estates that do stick to the law and do some good things for conservation.

“The criminals think they can get away with it. The police do seem to struggle with prosecutions and they need all the help a vigilant public can give them.

“Common buzzards were rare in Suffolk up to the 1980s because of heavy persecution that took place previously but now they are recovering, hopefully, to the level they should be at. For them to still be persecuted is not just upsetting, it’s illegal.”

Lewis Thornley,the British Association for Shooting and Conservation’s director for central England, said: “While it’s important to remember that an investigation is ongoing, BASC utterly condemns crimes against protected raptors and would urge anyone with information to assist the police.

“Anyone shooting a protected species damages shooting’s reputation and puts at risk the freedoms currently enjoyed by those who shoot legally and sustainably. Such actions have no place among the law-abiding shooting community.”

Anyone with information relating to the buzzard deaths is asked to contact Suffolk police on 101 and ask for Pc Lee Andrews-Pearce, quoting the crime reference 37/8990/18


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