Police inquiry after birds of prey found dead near 30 cubes of poison-laced meat

JUST a year ago, a sea eagle known as White G was soaring over the Isle of Mull having successfully taken his first flight.

Now police are investigating after the magnificent bird was found dead next to 32 cubes of venison laced with poison.

The young eagle, born on Mull, was discovered, along with a dead buzzard, close to the boundary of the Glenquiech and Glenogil estates in Angus earlier this year.

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Post-mortem examinations revealed both birds had swallowed a lethal cocktail of pesticides, including the banned poison carbofuran.

Tayside Police officers discovered 32 neat cubes of venison on electric fenceposts 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.

RSPB Scotland believes this was the largest single seizure of poisoned baits in Scotland.

Bob Elliot, its head of investigations, said the amount of poisoned deer meat was "shocking" and added: "It's the biggest amount of laced bait we have ever seen.

"It's so indiscriminate. Anything could come across them, from wildlife to domestic pets. These chemicals have been banned for years."

The bird had been hatched on Mull as part of a government-funded reintroduction programme. David Sexton, RSPB Scotland's Mull officer, worked with White G, who was named after the white letter G that officially identified him.

"He was quite feisty and a good, strong bird," he said. "Worst of all, he had got through the most testing part of his life. He had survived his first winter – and then this happens.

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"He was just about a year old. Sea eagles aren't mature, and can't breed, until they are five years old. So they spend that time wandering around looking for territory. They are pretty susceptible to poison because they scavenge a lot.

"They come down and feed on something that has died because it's an easy meal."

He said dying from eating a poisoned bait was long and painful for the bird.

"It attacks the nervous system and it really is a ghastly thing for something as wonderful as a sea eagle to die from," he said.

Michael Russell, the environment minister, said it was a "despicable crime".

"The sea eagle is a magnificent bird of prey which has been brought back to Scotland to enhance our natural environment. Poisoning them is simply unacceptable and I would urge anyone with information to contact the police."

A spokesman for Tayside Police said the investigation was ongoing. White G was the first sea eagle to be found poisoned in Scotland.

Last month, it was revealed that the investment banker John Dodd, the multi-millionaire owner of Glenogil, was docked a record 107,650 in EU farming subsidies by the Scottish Government after police found poisoned bait on estate vehicles.

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Mr 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.


• THE Scotsman is committed to helping the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals catch those responsible for killing birds of prey and other wildlife.

Information about raptor poisonings and other incidents of wildlife crime can be passed to police via the National Wildlife Crime Unit in North Berwick on 01620 893607.