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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May, 2005, 07:57 GMT 08:57 UK
Bird poisoners hunted by police
Peregrine falcon
Peregrine falcons are protected by law
Police in Cumbria have begun an investigation after birds of prey were found poisoned near a nature reserve.

Officers say a peregrine falcon and two buzzards were killed in two separate incidents close to Geltsdale reserve, near Penrith.

Tests by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) revealed all had been poisoned by the banned agricultural pesticide carbofuran.

Animal welfare officers have condemned the incidents.

A spokesman for Cumbria Police said staff at the RSPB Geltsdale reserve found a dead peregrine falcon on Crookburn Pike on 30 March.

Tests showed the bird had been poisoned by carbofuran.

'Illegal and indiscriminate'

He said the bird was protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and intentional killing carried a maximum fine of 5,000 or six months imprisonment.

"Tragically, this has been followed by a second incident less than four miles away, when officers picked up two dead buzzards adjacent to a cut open rabbit on Cumrew Fell near Newbiggin, Penrith.

"Analysis on one buzzard and the bait has again confirmed the presence of carbofuran.

"The placing of poison in the open countryside is illegal and indiscriminate and creates a risk to both wildlife and people," he said.

Andy Bunten, RSPB regional director, added: "It is disgraceful we are finding illegally killed birds on and close to a nature reserve.

"Unfortunately, there has been a history of similar incidents with illegally shot and poisoned birds being found on the edge of the reserve.

"There appears to be a determined campaign to try and eradicate these birds."

Poison fear over falcon's absence
12 May 05 |  Hereford/Worcs
Falcons found poisoned at reserve
15 Jul 04 |  Scotland

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