Police investigation begins into poisoning of Peregrine falcons in Devon

It is believed that the birds of prey have been deliberately targetted. Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

Devon and Cornwall Police are investigating reports of a Peregrine falcon being deliberately poisoned.

Officers were contacted by staff at Glendinning Quarry in Ashburton, on Tuesday 15 August, about an injured bird.

The falcon had been found on the floor of the quarry, which is home to a breeding pair of Peregrine falcons. Despited being given immediate care, the bird died the next day.

According to the police, early indications suggest the falcon had been poisoned but it will be forensically examined to establish the cause of death, which will help the police investigation.

This is not the first time these birds of prey have been targeted. In the same area of Ashburton and Buckfastleigh, several incidents have taken place over the last twenty years:

Most of the incidents involved the use of illegal poisons including Aldicarb, Carbofuran and Malathion. Racing pigeons have on the whole been used as bait and are generally smeared with a substance containing so that when the Peregrine plucks and eats the bait they also eat the poison.

In 2005 a number of children could have been harmed when the poisoned bait, a racing pigeon, was found wandering close to a childminder's address.

A healthy Peregrine falcon. Credit: PA Images

South West Peregrines, a volunteer group who monitor the birds have described the incident as "abhorrent" and are urging members of the local community to come forward with any information.

RSPB South West have also stepped in and are offering a £1,000 reward for information that directly leads to the prosecution of the offender.

  • Information is handled in the strictest of confidence and can be passed directly to PC Marshall by calling 101.