Northern Ireland news

Police appeal after three birds of prey poisoned in Co Antrim

A peregrine falcon was discovered dead through poisoning at a quarry on the Glenhead Road near Ballymena on April 11
Amanda Ferguson

Police have warned that humans are also being put at risk after three birds of prey found dead in Co Antrim were discovered to have been poisoned.

Tests carried out on a peregrine falcon and two buzzards linked their deaths to the pesticide carbofuran and the rodenticide alpha chloralose.

The peregrine falcon was discovered at a quarry on the Glenhead Road near Ballymena on April 11, the same area where another bird was found shot dead in 2012.

A buzzard was also found dead at a forest in the Glenarm area on March 15.

Both birds were tested to determine the cause of death and it was found they had suffered carbofuran poisoning.

Another buzzard was found in Glenarm on March 29 and tests have shown it was exposed to alpha chloralose.

PSNI wildlife liaison officer Emma Meredith said: "Poison generally is very dangerous and we would have particular concern over any poison but particularly over carbofuran.

"We are disappointed that this continues to happen especially with such a dangerous substance, which could kill not only birds of prey but also a child, family pet or any adult coming into contact with it.

"We would remind the public if there is a suspicion on any bird of prey to leave the bird/s and/or bait in situ and call the PSNI as soon as possible."

Ms Meredith also said those responsible need to be identified "before other wildlife, domestic pets, or even humans come to harm".

Police are working with the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Health and Safety Executive, National Wildlife Crime Unit, NI Environment Agency, NI Raptor Study Group and Royal Society for Protection of Birds to raise awareness about the killing of birds of prey and to highlight known ‘hot spots’.

The Operation Raptor campaign was launched in March to encourage members of the public to report incidents and to warn offenders they could face a custodial sentence and/or a fine up to £5,000 if caught targeting birds of prey through poisoning, shooting or trapping.

An RSPB NI spokeswoman said: "We were devastated to hear about the death of these magnificent birds of prey. To find out that they were all killed as a result of poisoning is a further blow.

"We would echo calls for anyone with information to pass this to the PSNI as a matter of urgency."

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