Police searches in Magherafelt in wildlife crime crackdown

A peregrine falcon.

A peregrine falcon.

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In an effort to tackle wildlife crime Magherafelt PSNI have carried out a number of searches.

The local Neighbourhood Policing Team, as part of their investigations into a number of poisoning incidents, searched targetted areas in south Derry on Tuesday.

Sergeant Sam Young said it was matter the police took very seriously and appealed to the general public to play their part in helping to bring it to an end.

He explained that there have been a number of incidents over the past year involving birds believed to have been poisoned and killed in the Magherafelt area.

One of the most publicised happened at Carmean Road between Magherafelt and Moneymore last July when the carass of a peregine falcon was discovered.

Tests carried out by a vet at the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development showed that the bird had been killed by ingesting the banned poison Carbofuan.

Sergeant Young said poisons, such as Carbofuan, were available for purchase online.

He pointed out that there are three primary chemicals used to target raptors - Alphachoralose (white powder); Carbofuran (dark blue granules) and Paraquat (dark green/blue liquid – tradename Gramoxone).

While appealing for public help, he also warned people not to touch the carass of a bird they suspected of having been poisoned, as it was potentially dangerous.

“Contact the police and we will come suitably equipped to remove it safely and for examination,” he explained.

The sergeant said the police took wildlife crime seriously and warned that, if convicted, a person could receive a custodial sentence.

“There could be very serious consequences for someone who he caught poisoning birds such as peregine falcons,” he said.

During the searches police were looking for metal peregrine rings and sparrowhawk rings, which no one should have unless they are a licenced BTO ringer.

“They were also searching for raptor feathers, snares, traps, tethers or harnesses, metal spikes, and chemical containers,” said Sgt Young.

“Also of interest were freezers, sheds, garage and office areas - drawers may contain “trophy” items, garden fires, incinerators, household fireplaces may have been used to melt down rings, while cameras, phones and computers may contain images/correspondence pertaining to illegal activities.”