Buzzards are protected by law. Photo: David Dixon CC-BY-SA-2.0

Buzzards are protected by law. Photo: David Dixon CC-BY-SA-2.0

Police in North Yorkshire are appealing for information after the discovery of a bird of prey that was killed illegally.

An examination of the body of buzzard found in the Nidderdale area of outstanding natural beauty revealed the cause of death as shooting.

The killing continues North Yorkshire’s unenviable reputation as a blackspot for raptor persecution.

North Yorkshire Police said the dead buzzard was found on 1 February at High Skelding between Pateley Bridge and Ripon. It was discovered in a small coniferous plantation near where the Ripon Rowley Walk route crosses the upper River Skell.

A police spokesperson said: “The police arranged for an x-ray at a local vet and this shows that the bird had been shot. It is thought to have been shot between 31 January and 1 February.

“Buzzards, along with all wild birds, are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is a criminal offence to kill or injure any wild bird. The Government has set persecution of birds of prey as one of their wildlife crime action priorities.”

A tagged hen harrier went missing in upper Swaledale in December and a shot peregrine falcon was found near Grassington in October last year. Both incidents happened in the Yorkshire Dales national park.

In June 2016, a shot red kite was found in Nidderdale at Timble Ings near Fewston Reservoir, not far from a similar discovery the previous month.

In July, North Yorkshire Police admitted it had been wrong not to pursue a prosecution through the courts of a junior gamekeeper who admitted setting illegal cruel traps on the Mossdale Estate near Hawes. He was given a police caution for the offence.

In May, police revealed eight red kites, including one of those near Fewston, had died from either shooting or suspected poisoning.

Anyone with information about the latest crime is asked to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 and selecting option 1, quoting reference number 12170018791 when passing on information. Alternatively, members of the public can contact the investigating officer PC Bill Hickson by email.

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