The poisoning of four buzzards in south Armagh is likely to have been the deliberate work of gamekeeping interests, an Assembly member has claimed.
MLA Jim Wells, who chairs the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group said the high number of poisonings in the area suggests the birds are being deliberately targeted by an individual or group of individuals.
As revealed in the Belfast Telegraph last weekend, four buzzards, a crow and a rabbit were all found poisoned in the area in recent weeks. Police are now appealing for information after tests showed they had been poisoned using a substance called Alphachoralose.
“In cases of Alphachoralose poisoning, the blood circulation slows down and the bird freezes to death,” Mr Wells said.
“I have no doubt that what is happening in this case is persecution — there are been too many deaths of buzzards in this area. There must be someone who knows what is going on and we need to make an example of the person responsible.
“I would appeal to those in the area to identify this person — I am sure it’s related to gamekeeping interests. The buzzard eats rabbits and rats so it doesn’t cause any problems to anyone, but there are people out there who regard any bird with a hooked bill as something that should be shot or poisoned.
“In the case of buzzards it is totally unnecessary. In fact a pair of buzzards is beneficial to both farmers and gamekeepers. Poisoning is also very dangerous from a human point of view, so we really need to put a lid on this.”
Anyone who witnessed suspicious activity or has information should call Bessbrook police on 0845 600 8000 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.