17/11/2017
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Buzzard found shot near Barnsley

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A Common Buzzard found illegally shot in a wood near Barnsley is the latest on a long list of cases of bird of prey persecution in Yorkshire.

A local birder saw the bird fall out of a tree in Warren Wood, Stainborough on 9 August and reported it to the RSPB's Investigations unit. An RSPB investigator recovered the bird and it was taken for an x-ray, which revealed a broken wing and a shotgun pellet lodged in the wing, which was deemed to have caused the break. The wound was thought to be several days old and had become infected, and unfortunately the bird had to be euthanised.

It is illegal to intentionally kill or harm any bird of prey, which are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To kill or injure one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months in jail. The incident was reported to police immediately, and last week the RSPB was informed that the enquiry had concluded with no prosecution. The RSPB is now appealing to the public for information. 

The RSPB's recent Birdcrime 2017 report, published on 1 November, revealed that the illegal shooting, trapping and poisoning of birds of prey is a big problem in Yorkshire. Last year the RSPB received reports of 153 incidents of wild bird crime in northern England; this was 33 per cent of the total incidents for the UK and the highest number for any region. Ten of these occurred in South Yorkshire, and many more are suspected to have taken place unseen and undetected. The report also revealed that there were no prosecutions for bird of prey persecution in the whole of 2016.

David Hunt, RSPB Investigations Officer, recovered the body. He said: "It is sickening to think that this bird was deliberately shot. Seeing a buzzard soaring high in the sky or picking up worms from a freshly-turned field is part of the joy of a walk in the countryside. However majestic birds like these are, more often than people realise, being intentionally and brutally killed in Yorkshire, and [this] is a cause for local concern. This is not the first time I have been called out to a case like this and unfortunately it is often very hard to find out who is responsible. If you do have information, please come forward."

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The RSPB is offering a £1,000 reward for information that leads to a successful conviction. If you have any information relating to this incident, call South Yorkshire Police on 101 quoting reference number 617 10082017.

Have you come across evidence of wild bird crime? Let police and the RSPB know if you notice:

  • birds of prey that are injured or caught in cage traps (not crows).
  • dead birds of prey (if it is lying next to other dead birds/animals these may be poisoned baits, so do not touch).
  • spring traps set out in the open or on the top of poles.

If you see anything like this, take photos, note the location and immediately contact police on 101 and RSPB Investigations on 01767 680551 (or alternatively fill in the online form or email crime@rspb.org.uk).