THE debate on the recent mass poisoning of birds of prey seems, incorrectly, to be directing its attention to the various laws for bird protection.
Much more serious is the violation of various laws governing the storage and safe use of the toxins being used. Most of these have specified limited agricultural use, clearly labelled, for which gamekeepers have no legitimate requirement. All require secure storage and, in some cases, recorded use.
Examination of the government’s Scientific Services report on cases of poisoning regularly show several deaths of non-target species, including cats and dogs. What they do not show, and what most country people realise, is the large number of near misses when potentially lethal substances have been ingested by livestock, pets, working dogs and even humans.
The issue is surely one which requires criminal charges to be brought under the misuse and possibly incorrect storage of toxic chemicals by unauthorised and untrained persons.
In this regard, what is the Health and Safety Executive doing during farm inspections? The British Association of Insurers should also immediately nullify any farm or estate insurance on conviction, and all government rural development grant should be stopped – retrospectively if need be.
A mere prison sentence will not stop the indiscriminate poisoning of birds of prey.