Police are appealing for information from the public, after the confirmed poisoning of two white-tailed eagles.
Police investigating the circumstances following the discovery of two dead white-tailed eagles, in the Glenhead Road area of Ballymena on Monday, 15th May, can confirm the birds were subsequently poisoned.
Following a post-mortem examination, both birds tested positive for the insecticide bendiocarb.
How the birds came into contact with the insecticide remains part of an ongoing investigation, and the Police Service of Northern Ireland is committed to working with partners and members of the public to determine how the birds consumed the toxic insecticide.
Rural and Wildlife Crime Superintendent Johnston McDowell said: “Sadly, police can confirm the two majestic birds found on land in the Glenhead Road area were poisoned, following a post-mortem examination.
"The test results suggest that an individual not only has access to the insecticide bendiocarb but has placed this into the outside environment illegally, so that wild birds have been able to consume it.
“Bendiocarb is present in the trade product Ficam D, a powder which is only permitted for indoor use to control crawling insects such as wasps and ants, so using this active ingredient in fields would be a breach of Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR).
“The illegal killing of these beautiful birds in a popular rural area is disgraceful, and for any individual to think that they can ignore the law and lay poisonous bait which has led to the killing of these birds, is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
“Officers with support from the National Wildlife Crime Unit, have been on the ground conducting house-to-house enquiries, engaging with local residents and landowners, in the areas of where the birds were gravitating towards, before they were found deceased.
“The Police Service of Northern Ireland will continue to work with our partners to tackle this criminal activity, investigate any reports made to us and prosecute offenders. In this case we have liaised with our partners in the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAWNI) Agri-Food and Biosciences, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, NI Raptor Study Group, Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Environment Agency and received additional support from the National Wildlife Crime Unit. Police have a strong multi-agency support group which we are very grateful for, but we need the help of the public too.
“There must be people in the community who are aware of individuals committing these offences, and who can come forward and assist police with any information they have.
“If you notice any suspicious activity in rural areas, notice a dead or injured bird of prey, please call police on 101, or alternatively you can make a report via Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://crimestoppers-uk.org. Alternatively, you can submit a report online using the non-emergency reporting form via http://www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/.
“We are also very grateful to our partners in the charity Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB) who are offering a reward of £5000 for information leading to the prosecution of those involved in the poisoning of the two white-tailed eagles. The charity is completely independent from the police and can be contacted on their confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101 or online at [email protected]."
Police in Mid and East Antrim, along with Police Wildlife Officer and partners from the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit have been carrying out searches in the Glenhead Road area of Ballymena.