The bird was found near Gordale Scar. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The bird was found near Gordale Scar. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Police in North Yorkshire are appealing for information after a dead buzzard was found in the Yorkshire Dales.

The raptor, which is protected by law, was found only about 2km away from where a pair of nesting peregrine falcons are a major tourist draw.

Police said a local farmer found the body of the bird of prey in a field off Hawthorns Lane, Gordale. The site is a little over a mile from Malham Cove, where peregrine falcons raise chicks each year.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds provide a viewing point for the peregrines, which is visited by thousands of tourists each summer.

North Yorkshire Police said the dead buzzard was passed to rangers from the park authority who in turn notified the RSPB.

An x-ray revealed the buzzard had been shot. Photo: North Yorkshire Police

An x-ray revealed the buzzard had been shot. Photo: North Yorkshire Police

The spokesperson said: “Following an examination of the bird, an x-ray revealed a shotgun pellet in the birds head. It is not known whether the bird was killed at this location, or if it was shot elsewhere and flew on before succumbing to its injury.

“We are conducting enquiries and are requesting the public’s assistance to help determine the full circumstances surrounding the incident.

“In particular, we are appealing for anyone who has any knowledge of this shooting to contact us.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the police on 101, select option two, and ask for Harry Carpenter. You can also contact them by email. Reference number 12170089221 should be quoted.

Information can also be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

The bird’s death is the latest in a number of incidents of raptor persecution in the Yorkshire Dales. A buzzard that was found with gunshot wounds in the Cowgill area in Dentdale earlier this month and taken to a veterinary centre, where it was expected to make a full recovery.

A tagged hen harrier that went missing in upper Swaledale in December last year and a shot peregrine falcon was found near Grassington in October.

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.

The incident prompted the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority chairman Peter Charlesworth to say: “At a time when the Yorkshire Dales is receiving such widespread recognition as a wonderful place to visit, it’s incredibly disappointing that the criminal persecution of birds of prey continues to damage the reputation of the area.

“We know that birds of prey are a big attraction to the millions of visitors that come here, so these acts are causing economic damage as well as appalling harm to wildlife.”

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