Dog dies after eating poison during walk in Yorkshire Dales

Molly, a springer spaniel, and Poppy, a cocker spaniel.

One dog has died and another became ill after consuming a cocktail of poisons in the Yorkshire Dales.

Molly, a springer spaniel, and Poppy, a cocker spaniel, became poorly after going for a walk on April 23 near Pateley Bridge.

They were taken to a local vet but sadly Molly died soon after.

Test results have now revealed that Molly had consumed a deadly mixture of chemicals including bendiocarb, alphachloralose and the banned pesticides carbofuran and isofenphos, and that this was the likely cause of death.

This unusual combination of substances has been seen before in the area, causing the death of two red kites and a buzzard since 2016.

Police believe that both dogs had inadvertently come across a poison bait which may have been placed illegally in the countryside to target birds of prey.

North Yorkshire has the highest rate of crimes against birds of prey in the UK, clocking up more incidents in the past seven years than any other county involving the shooting, trapping and poisoning of protected species such as red kites, buzzards, goshawks and hen harriers. Within North Yorkshire, Nidderdale is one of the worst blackspots.

Following these incidents North Yorkshire Police executed searches at a number of properties in the area on July 17 with staff from Natural England and RSPB.

Investigations are ongoing and officers are now appealing for information from the public.

Inspector Matt Hagen of North Yorkshire Police said: “The fact we have seen this same combination of chemicals, the ‘Nidderdale cocktail’ as it is sometimes known, also cause the death of birds of prey in this same location would indicate that the poisons have been deliberately left in a place where they could be found by wildlife and unfortunately in this case, domestic pets.

“Pesticide abuse of any kind will not be tolerated and we are doing everything we can to try and find those responsible.”

Molly and Poppy’s owners said in a statement: “It’s been soul-destroying. We miss Molly every day. She was a lovely dog, daft as a brush, and she loved everything and everybody. One minute she was a lovely, bubbly spaniel and then she was gone, in a heartbeat.

“We took the dogs for a walk up to Two Stoops and on the way home Poppy started being sick. Then we got down the garden path and Molly started twitching.

“We thought it must have been something they’d eaten so we took them straight to the vets. About an hour later we got the call to say that Molly had died.

“We couldn’t believe it. She’s buried up on a hill on a farm, but she shouldn’t be there, she should be here on the sofa now, with us. Our other dog Alfie wandered round the house for days looking for her. No-one should have to go through what we’ve gone through.”

Mark Thomas, head of investigations at the RSPB, said: “Nidderdale is surrounded by grouse moors and sadly we know from experience, and from the government’s own data, that there is a strong correlation between raptor persecution and driven grouse shooting. Carbofuran is one of the most commonly-abused substances in the poisoning of birds of prey.

“It is a highly toxic, banned substance, putting wildlife, pets and people at risk. This is not the first time harmful substances have been found left out in the open and sadly is unlikely to be the last.

“This reckless and irresponsible behavior, which had led to the death of a beloved family pet, cannot be allowed to continue. The RSPB is calling for the immediate licensing of grouse moors, to bring this industry back in line with the law.”

If you have any information relating to this incident, call North Yorkshire Police on 101 quoting reference: 12200068444.

If you find a wild bird of prey which you suspect has been illegally killed, contact RSPB Investigations at crime@rspb.org.uk or fill in the online form. Or get in touch anonymously on the confidential Raptor Crime Hotline: 0300 999 0101.

Signs of poison may include a dead bird of prey, crow or raven (or several) lying close to a poison bait – typically a pheasant or rabbit carcass or chunks of meat. Take photos, note the day, time and location, but please do not touch anything.

3 Comments

  1. Why is this story being released now when the poisoning was in April ? In these cases it is vital that the public are informed as rapidly as possible. Poison bait in the countryside could claim the lives of children as well as pets. Any delay in alerting the public to be on their guard against these risks is inexcusable.
    Also someone must know who is responsible for these poison baits, they need to stop shielding the criminals, report them to the authorities and ensure the countryside is safe for residents, visitors, children, pets and our wildlife.

    • Presumably to analyse the poison and then allow the police to obtain sufficient evidence to undertake the raids they have now done. Without evidence there’s no court case and it just continues.

  2. This seems a very one sided piece of journalism!
    There are more birds of prey in Yorkshire than there has been for years!
    But this then is at the expense of other species!you can’t have it all ways. Where are all the songbirds /swallows these days? Are they all popping over to Nidderdales cocktail bar for a night out?
    To try to blame Gamekeepers for all people feel is wrong with the moors fragile ecosystem is a bit rich!
    Grouse are not exactly thriving!
    The only thing that seems to be doing well is Heather beatle!
    York Floods, its supposedly because someone has had a Moor fire!
    What if there were no fires and the moors were left? Then come the glorious day when they were as dry as snuff and did catch fire it would be so intense instead of a light fast flash fire it would burn down into the peat and unleash all the stored carbon. Such fires could become unstoppable! Thus rendering hundreds of acres of habitat down to ashes and destroying all in its path! Animals, farmsteads, Wildlife, No winners there!
    All this is kept in check free of charge by the Gamekeepers!
    Grouse are not the only Bird that benefits from the work of the Moor Keeper!
    Agri Chemicals, Climate Change, Domestic Cats, lack of insects to name but a few things have contributed far more to the decline in some of our birds. Raptors will take out birds further down the food chain its all a question of what you want. To see some of these birds looking as Majestic as they do is fantastic. but you may not want too many! Let the Other predetors go unchecked and see what life you are left with on the Moor?
    Its all a question of balance and working with the Gamekeepers instead of blaming them has to be a far better way forward

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