The police have ended the investigation into the death of a white-tailed sea eagle in Dorset - despite the bird having seven times the amount of poison needed to kill it.

The rare bird of prey was found dead on a shooting estate in North Dorset in late January.

Yesterday (Tuesday, March 29) Dorset Police announced that they will not be taking further action - despite finding high levels of the rodenticide brodifacoum - since they "could not confirm if any criminal offence had been committed".

The RSPB says it is "baffled" at the police's reaction to what it calls "an illegal act".

White-tailed sea eagles are one of the UK's largest and rarest birds.

The eagle found dead was a male released in an reintroduction project on the Isle of Wight in 2020.

A spokesperson for Dorset Police said: "An investigation under Section 1 of the Wildlife Countryside Act 1981 was carried out in conjunction with the RSPB, Natural England, National Wildlife Crime Unit and the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation.

“A detailed examination and tests have been carried out on the bird, which were inconclusive, and it has therefore not been possible to confirm that any criminal offence has been committed.

“While high levels of brodifacoum were detected, it has not been possible to establish whether this was as a result of a deliberate act or due to secondary rodenticide poisoning.

“As a result, no further police action will be taken in relation to this report.”


The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation is managing the eagle reintroduction project.

On its blog it confirmed that what the police called "high levels" of poison found in the bird was in fact seven times more than the amount needed to kill it.

A member of the organisation wrote: "Post mortem and toxicology testing through the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme has subsequently identified brodifacoum poisoning as the cause of death.

"Brodifacoum is a highly toxic anticoagulant rodenticide that causes internal haemorrhaging.

"The bird’s liver contained approximately seven times the amount of brodifacoum required to kill a bird like a White-tailed Eagle.

"The satellite data indicates that the eagle, which was otherwise healthy, deteriorated and died over a period of several days."

White-tailed sea eagles are commonly known as 'flying barn doors' due to the sheer size of their two-metre plus wingspan.

They disappeared from the UK during the early 20th century but six juveniles were released on the Isle of Wight as part of a reintroduction programme.


Katie-Jo Luxton, RSPB Global Conservation Director: “We are completely baffled by the decision taken by Dorset Police to end the white-tailed eagle investigation so prematurely.

"Brodifacoum – the rodent poison that killed the eagle – is highly toxic and it is clear that it was being used either incompetently or with intent to kill raptors.

"Either way, this is an illegal act.

“A thorough land search had been planned on the estate in question, to look for evidence such as poison baits or misuse, but that was recently and unexpectedly called off.

"The investigation has not been closed by the Health and Safety Executive but that has now been made defunct by the police communication.

“We seek assurance from Dorset Police that their wildlife crime remit is still operational and that other significant ongoing raptor persecution investigations are fully investigated ‘without fear or favour’ as per Police Oath.”

Brodifacoum has become one of the world's most widely used pesticides, typically used as a rodenticide.

The eagle had been monitored by the wildlife via satellite throughout its life and data shows that it had spent autumn and winter at Poole Harbour, feeding on grey mullet.

It also visited the Purbeck coastline and North Dorset.

Its body was found on January 27.

Intentionally killing a wild bird is a criminal offence punishable by an unlimited fine and/or six months in jail.