SEVERAL buzzards, an owl and a rabbit were found dead after two incidents of raptor persecution in Blandford.

Raptor persecution – which is one of the UK wildlife crime priorities and involves birds of prey – includes poisoning, shooting, trapping, habitat destruction and nest destruction or disturbance.

In April, several buzzards were found dead within close proximity to each other in the Ashmere Wood area. They were sent of testing and enquiries are ongoing.

A few months later, in August, police officers received a report from an animal rescue centre that a number of dead and sick animals from the Verwood area were bought in to them.

The animals included buzzards, an owl and a rabbit. These animals were all sent for testing.

Bournemouth Echo:

Two of the buzzards involved in the Verwood incident survived and have been tended back to health by staff at the rescue centre.

Now Dorset Police has appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

Police constable Rob Hammond, of North Dorset police, said: “It is very concerning to see these harrowing incidents occurring in our area and an investigation is underway into each of the reports.

“I would like to warn members of the public that this poison could be harmful to anything or anyone that comes into contact with it.

“There is a real danger that persecution can affect any kind of bird. More common species such as kites, which have recently returned to our area and are making good progress, and buzzards can come to harm.

“Tragically it will also have an impact on rarer birds of prey such as ospreys, which have recently been reintroduced to the Poole Harbour area and roam for miles, and hen harriers, which are almost extinct in this country.

“Always be careful if you see a dead bird of prey or a group of them together – do not touch them, especially if it can be clearly seen that they have white or blue matter in any open wound.”

Bournemouth Echo:

People who come across a dead raptor are urged to report it to Dorset Police by taking a photograph and marking the location using a grid reference.

The incidents should also report this to the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) hotline on 0800 321600.

Anyone with information regarding the latest two incidents is asked to contact police on 101, quoting occurrence number 55200052754 for the Ashmore Wood incident and 55200131382 for the Verwood incident.

Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.