A POISONER is thought to be trying to kill rare birds in Calderdale by spiking food and leaving it near their nesting sites.
Police have been called in after a chicken carcass believed to have been deliberately poisoned was found in the Ryburn Valley near the home of a peregrine falcon.
Officers have sent the toxic carcass for testing and are asking the public to help find the poisoner.
Police say the chicken could have been fatal to humans as well as the falcon.
Special Constable and Wildlife Officer Phil Sanderson, a retired police officer, said: “In all my 30 years as an officer and now as the wildlife officer for Calderdale, I have not heard of an attempt like this.
“People will use all sorts of deadly and highly toxic poisons in an effort to bring harm to these creatures.
“But the poisons they use are highly dangerous and indiscriminate. A child could have picked up this carcass and then who knows what would have happened? Some poisons are deadly to humans, just to the touch, and dogs could be attracted to the carcass with deadly results.
“Not only is it very sad that someone would want to try and kill one of these beautiful birds but they are also risking people’s lives.”
Peregrine falcons nest at several sites across Calder-dale but are at risk from professional criminals because of the high value of their eggs.
There have also been reports of rogue elements from the pigeon racing and game-shooting communities
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attacking the falcons to protect their birds.
“I would urge people to be vigilant,” said Special Constable Sanderson.
“If you come across something that looks out of place particularly if you know rare birds are in the area then please get in touch.
“If it is a carcass that is intended to cause harm then it will more than likely be split open too, Cover the bird up too so that it doesn’t pose a risk to anyone else.
“If it looks wrong then it usually is. For example if you are out in the countryside in the middle of nowhere and come across a chicken carcass miles from the nearest farm then we need to know about it.”
He added he will be carrying out a series of targeted operations over the coming months to protect these birds and other wildlife.
They include defending ground-nesting birds who can be at risk from off-road enthusiasts.
“I take this job very seriously and will be watching over sites across Calderdale. All the important sites are also monitored by local enthusiasts who keep a constant vigil for any suspicious activity which then comes back to me,” he said.
If you come across a suspicious carcass or see suspicious activity contact police on 0845 6060606.