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Police using drones with cameras to target shooting and poisoning of birds of prey

The most frequent casualties were buzzards and the recently re-introduced red kite.

Image: Shutterstock/SKatzenberger

THE PSNI ARE using drones fitted with specialist cameras to target wildlife crime such as shooting, poisoning or trapping of birds of prey.

A report into the illegal killing of Northern Ireland’s native birds of prey, published by the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime in November 2016 found nine confirmed illegal poisoning or persecution incidents in Northern Ireland in 2014.

Of the nine confirmed cases in 2014, four of these occurred in Down, two in Tyrone and one in each in Derry, Armagh and Antrim.

PSNI Wildlife Liaison Officer Emma Meredith said there have been times where baits such as a rabbit carcass or sausages have been laid laced with seriously dangerous poisons such as Carbofuran which was banned across the EU in 2001.

Be under no illusion that this type of poison (Carbofuran) is an indiscriminate killer and can also be fatal to humans, not only wildlife suffers but also any child, adult or pet could find and ultimately consume these poisoned baits.

Between 2009 and 2014 there were 44 confirmed reports of native birds of prey being illegally killed, plus one confirmed incident of illegal nest destruction.

The most frequent casualties were buzzards and the recently re-introduced red kite, with four of each of these species killed. Red kites and buzzards are particularly susceptible to poisoned baits as they will scavenge on carrion routinely. There were also two peregrine falcons and a sparrowhawk killed.

‘Hot-spot’ maps were identify by examining the occurrence and trends in persecution of birds.

Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) Wildlife Officer Dr Jon Lees said, “In Northern Ireland all nesting birds, their eggs and dependent young are protected by law from disturbance and destruction.

“Peregrines have increased in numbers since historic lows of the 1950-60’s caused by organochloride pesticides, egg collectors and persecution, however they are still often targeted by those wanting to reduce their abundance, but can also be disturbed to the point of nest abandonment by people who just want closer look or a photograph.”

Read: Three Irish beaches lose Blue Flags status while two get them for first time>

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