Five hen harriers have been lost in northern England. Photo: Bernard Stam CC-BY-SA-2.0

Five hen harriers have been lost in northern England. Photo: Bernard Stam CC-BY-SA-2.0

A national park boss has expressed his disappointment at the damage to the area’s reputation after a bird of prey went missing.

The hen harrier disappeared in December last year in the Yorkshire Dales.

The bird had been tagged after fledging in Northumberland last summer. North Yorkshire Police said the tag stopped transmitting on 21 December 2016 in the Thwaite area of upper Swaledale.

A search of the area has been carried out but no trace of the bird or equipment has been found, police said.

Natural England reported the disappearance of Mick, as the bird had been named, to police. A force spokesperson said its officers were working closely with wildlife crime officers, local landowners, the Moorland Association and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

A North Yorkshire Police spokesperson said: “The loss of another juvenile hen harrier brings the total to five within four months across northern England – and is a serious blow to the small English hen harrier population.

“Interference with hen harriers is a criminal offence.”

Rob Cooke, a director at Natural England, said: “The disappearance of a hen harrier is deeply concerning to all who appreciate these rare and impressive birds. Any information that can shed light on what has happened to Mick will be gratefully received by North Yorkshire Police.”

David Butterworth, chief executive at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority said: “It’s incredibly disappointing that the Yorkshire Dales’ reputation as a wonderful place to visit is being damaged by incidents like this.

“We have pledged to provide whatever support we can to help the police and Natural England find out what happened in this particular case.”

Anyone with any information which could help police with their enquiries is asked to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Police said anyone contacting them should quote reference number 12170014975 when giving information.

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