Police inquiry after meat bait with pesticides kills sea eagle

More than 30 pieces of poisoned meat and a dead hare with poison on it found on estates in Tayside

Police are investigating the deaths of a sea eagle and a buzzard after more than 30 pieces of poisoned meat and a dead hare with poison on it were found on neighbouring estates in Tayside.

The dead birds of prey were discovered close to the boundary of the Glenquiech and Glenogil estates in Angus earlier this year.

Both birds had ingested a lethal and unusual cocktail of highly toxic pesticides, the Guardian can reveal. Police and wildlife crime investigators found 32 cubes of venison on fence posts on the Glenogil estate, and the butchered body of a mountain hare close by on the Glenquiech estate.

The Scottish government's agricultural science laboratory has revealed that the pieces of venison, which the police suspect were bait, contained three pesticides, two of which were also found in the dead birds of prey.

The sea eagle was discovered on May 4 this year by the landowner, Richard de Klee, by a small wood close to his house at Glenquiech, roughly 700 metres from its boundary with Glenogil. The bird had been hatched on Mull as part of a government-funded reintroduction programme and De Klee recognised its white identification tags.

He reported it to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which alerted Tayside police. The surrounding area was searched three days later by the force's wildlife crime specialist and RSPB investigators, who found a dead buzzard further uphill on De Klee's land, 600 metres from the eagle, and a butchered hare carcass 400 metres from the buzzard, next to Glenogil's fence.

The investigators then found 32 neatly butchered cubes of roe deer meat on electric fence posts inside Glenogil's boundary fence. The RSPB believes it is the largest single seizure of poisoned baits in Scotland.

Government experts at Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture said the sea eagle had been killed by a combination of carbofuran and bendiocarb - the first time this mixture has been detected in a wildlife crime investigation. The buzzard was killed by the same mixture.

Laboratory tests found that 10 samples of the venison seized on the fence inside Glenogil and the mountain hare on the Glenquiech estate had been dosed with those two pesticides and a third called isofenphos - the first time the police have found this combination in a suspected wildlife crime.

Last month, the Guardian revealed that the multimillionaire owner of Glenogil, an investment banker called John Dodd, was docked a record £107,650 in EU farming subsidies by the Scottish executive after the police discovered poisoned bait on estate vehicles.

Dodd is appealing against the penalty. He has denied any wrongdoing and stated that his staff, who have not been convicted of any offences, are innocent of any illegal activity.


Severin Carrell, Scotland correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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