The x-ray photograph of the bird, showing shot in its body. Photo: North Yorkshire Police

The x-ray photograph of the bird, showing shot in its body. Photo: North Yorkshire Police

North Yorkshire’s unenviable reputation for raptor persecution continued with the discovery of a shot sparrowhawk.

Police said the dead bird was discovered near Richmond and was found to have been killed by a shotgun.

The bird, which was protected by law, was found at High Waitgate, close to the Marske to Newsham road, about 5km (3 miles) north of the Yorkshire Dales national park boundary.

Police believe the bird of prey was killed in the last week of April.

North Yorkshire Police said the bird was recovered by them and taken to a local vet, where it was x-rayed. The x-ray image clearly shows the pellets from a shotgun that killed the bird.

Wildlife crime officer PC Mark Wood said: “Killing a bird of prey like this is an offence, and I am appealing to anyone who knows anything about this incident to come forward and contact me.”

Anyone with information is asked to call North Yorkshire Police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, quoting reference number 12170073101.

The county is a blackspot for attacks on raptors. The body of a red kite was found near Greenhow in Nidderdale on 11 March.

Subsequent tests revealed what police believe to be lead shot in the bird’s body.

Local people, businesses and organisations including the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, put up a total of £3,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrest and charging of those responsible for the bird’s death. Crimestoppers added £1,000 to the amount.

In February the body of a buzzard that had been shot was found in the Nidderdale area of outstanding natural beauty.

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.

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