Press Release

Illegal poisons used in Northern Ireland pose threat to our birds of prey

RSPB’s annual Birdcrime report revealed that in 2022 four Peregrine Falcons and a Red Kite were illegally killed in Northern Ireland, following the consumption of baits laced with banned pesticides.

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Since 2009, 13 Red Kites have been illegally poisoned in Northern Ireland, and there is significant concern that illegal killing is preventing this reintroduced population from recovering to sustainable levels.  

Therefore, the charity, which has been working in Northern Ireland for over 50 years, is urging the policy makers to tighten up laws governing the possession of various illegal pesticides.  

Gregory Woulahan, RSPB NI Director of Operations and Head of Land, said: “The continued use of banned pesticides in Northern Ireland’s countryside is not only a criminal act, but it is also dangerous. The appalling incident at Glenwherry in the Antrim Hills earlier this year, where two White-tailed Eagles, one of our rarest birds of prey, were killed after consuming poisoned bait, brought into focus the impact these chemicals can have, not only on birds, but potentially pets, livestock or even people who inadvertently come into contact with them.”  

He continued: “That’s why we are also urging DAERA to consider establishing a poisons amnesty, similar to what has been carried out elsewhere in the UK. This would allow anyone with a stockpile of illegal to use, or out of date pesticides, to surrender them anonymously for safe disposal.” 

RSPB NI supports the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group, which has gained over 40,000 signatories in its petition, calling for legislation introduced by the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011, to be properly enacted, making it an offence to possess pesticides containing a list of prescribed ingredients. Full implementation of the legislation, as well as a disposal scheme, could assist in taking these highly toxic poisons out of circulation, reducing the risk to wildlife. 

The public have an important role to play in helping keep our birds of prey safe.  

If you notice a dead or injured bird of prey in suspicious circumstances, call the police on 101 and fill in the RSPB’s online reporting form.

If you have information about anyone killing birds of prey which you wish to report anonymously, call the RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101.