The dead female sparrowhawk was found by a member of the public north of the village of Nidd, between Knaresborough and Ripley, with a fresh, bloodied injury, on Sunday 25 February 2018.
The results from a subsequent x-ray showed that the bird had a smashed and broken wing. The x-ray also revealed a piece of shot lodged in the bird’s body. A police investigation is now underway.
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act it is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take wild birds. Nevertheless birds of prey (raptors) are still shot, poisoned and trapped, and North Yorkshire has more confirmed incidents of raptor persecution than any other county in England. As part of a bid to tackle this, in February North Yorkshire Police teamed up with the RSPB, RSPCA, and North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks to launch ‘Operation Owl’. The joint initiative saw staff distribute flyers and posters to local businesses and talk to members of the public about raptor crime, to raise awareness of the issue.
Sergeant Kevin Kelly, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said:
Our wonderful countryside is host to many specially-protected birds of prey. It is absolutely unacceptable that people think they can ignore the law and subject these birds to poisonings, shootings, nest destruction and the illegal use of spring traps without consequence. We will be doing everything in our power to catch these offenders, supported by our colleagues in the RSPB and the volunteers in the national parks.
Guy Shorrock, RSPB Senior Investigations Officer, added:
Two years ago a red kite was found shot in this same area, so there is clearly a problem here. We believe there will be someone out there who has information about what is going on in this area. We urge you to come forward and call us, in complete confidence, on our Raptor Crime Hotline.
Anyone with any information about this incident is asked to call North Yorkshire Police on 101, choose option 1 and be ready to quote reference 12180034821. Alternatively email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to remain anonymous, call the RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime Hotline for free on 0300 999 0101.