How about this for proper, proactive, genuine partnership working to tackle illegal raptor killing in North Yorkshire, one of the UK’s most prolific raptor persecution hotspots.
This is really encouraging. There’s no obsfuscation here, just a
clear acknowledgement that raptors are still being illegally killed in
North Yorkshire and an equally clear intention from all the project
partners that this will no longer will be tolerated.
Well done North Yorkshire Police, RSPB, RSPCA, Yorkshire Dales
National Park Authority and North York Moors National Park Authority.
Press release from North Yorkshire Police, 17 February 2018:
It’s “talons out” for raptor persecutors as North Yorkshire Police launches Operation Owl
Police are urging visitors to North Yorkshire’s countryside to get
involved with Operation Owl – a new initiative to reduce the number of
illegal attacks on birds of prey in the county.
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act it is an offence to
intentionally kill, injure or take wild birds. Nevertheless birds of
prey (raptors) are still shot, poisoned and trapped – especially in
areas where the land is managed for driven grouse shooting.
North Yorkshire has more confirmed incidents of raptor persecution
than any other county in England – a situation that North Yorkshire
Police is determined to tackle.
Launching on 17 February, Operation Owl is a
joint initiative by North Yorkshire Police, the Royal Society for the
Protection of Birds and the RSPCA, together with the North York Moors
and Yorkshire Dales National Parks.
As part of the Operation, police will carry out surveillance checks
on known raptor persecution hot-spots at random times to disrupt
offender activity, and work with local landowners to make them aware of
the legal position on raptor persecution. National Park volunteers will
be trained to spot poisoned bait and illegal traps across the parks and
the police are also calling on the public to be the eyes and ears of the
police when out in the countryside.
North Yorkshire Police’s Chief Constable, Dave Jones, is the national
lead on wildlife and rural crime, and the Force has what is believed to
be the largest dedicated rural taskforce in the country.
Sergeant Kevin Kelly is part of that rural taskforce. He said:
“Our wonderful countryside is host to many specially-protected
birds of prey such as peregrine falcons, red kites, buzzards and owls.
It is absolutely unacceptable that people think they can ignore the law
and subject these birds to poisonings, shootings, nest destruction and
the illegal use of spring traps without consequence. We will be doing
everything in our power to catch these offenders, supported by our
colleagues in the RSPB and the volunteers in the national parks. But the
area is huge, so the more eyes and ears we have on the ground the
better. That’s why we’re asking the public to help.”
In particular, the police are asking the public to spot pole traps. Sergeant Kelly explained:
“Trappers are using spring-loaded traps on top of posts to
capture birds of prey that land on top of the post. The bird can
struggle for many hours before the trapper returns to kill them. These
pole traps, as they are called, are illegal. We want the public to help
us find these traps. We’re advising that anyone who sees a pole trap
should “spring” it if they can do so safely, note the location, take a
photo, and call the police on 101 to report it. Our wildlife officers
will take it from there.”
Operation Owl will run for the next year, and North Yorkshire Police
is hoping that the initiative will become a blueprint for other Forces
where there is a high incidence of raptor persecution.
Said Sergeant Kelly:
“Like other forms of rural crime, raptor persecution is not a
problem that the police can tackle alone. We need everyone involved. The
weather will soon start to improve and more people will head out to the
countryside. If everyone keeps their eyes open for illegal traps and
poisoned bait, it will be a massive boost to our surveillance operation.
This is a real opportunity to reduce the number of wild birds that
suffer and die unnecessarily, and send a clear message to offenders that
we will not tolerate this crime in our countryside.”
Commenting on Operation Owl, Guy Shorrock, RSPB Senior Investigations Officer, said:
“The landscape of North Yorkshire attracts huge numbers of
visitors every year. Unfortunately, it also has a terrible history for
the illegal shooting, trapping and poisoning of birds of prey. We are
proud to support North Yorkshire Police with this initiative and would
ask people to report any concerns to them. If people want to speak in
confidence about raptor persecution they can contact us on 0300 9990101“.
Andy Wilson, Chief Executive of the North York Moors National Park Authority, said:
“Raptors are beautiful. They are an essential part of our
National Parks, but their numbers have been diminished over many years
by persecution from shooting interests. We urge everyone to help prevent
illegal persecution and welcome Operation Owl, which the National Park
Authority is actively supporting.”
David Butterworth, CEO of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said:
“The monitoring data, the number of confirmed persecution
incidents and the absence of some species from large areas of
potentially suitable habitat provide compelling evidence for an
uncomfortable conclusion: illegal persecution is limiting the
populations of some species of birds of prey in the Yorkshire Dales
National Park. I’d like to appeal to the public to join in Operation
Owl to help bring about the changes in attitudes that are so urgently
needed. Only through collective action can the persecution be stopped.”
The partners have released a short video to help members of the
public to recognise some common signs that raptor persecution is taking