A SPATE of attacks on native wildlife in North Yorkshire’s woodlands have been condemned by rescuers after thugs trapped birds and shot a badger in the eye.
Jean Thorpe, who runs Ryedale Wildlife Rehabilitation, is regularly called upon to care for the victims of wildlife crime, but despite working for more than 30 years, she has been angered by a series of new cases that have left birds and animals dead or horrifically injured.
She said: “I’ve dealt with a shot badger, a badger dig and a fen trapped buzzard – all within the last two weeks.”
The buzzard, which was found at Wykeham near Scarborough, had to be put down by a vet after its ankle was crushed and its thigh broken by a fen trap.
PC Graham Bilton, rural beat manager and wildlife crime officer for North Yorkshire Police, said: “An injured buzzard was recently recovered from the Wykeham area, which had injuries consistent with having been caught in a spring trap.
“Unfortunately, the young bird had to be destroyed following examination by a vet.
“The act of killing, injuring or taking all birds within the UK is illegal, with very few strictly controlled exemptions, and any information relating to this incident or any other wildlife crime should be passed to the police.”
North Yorkshire Police has trained wildlife crime officers operating across the county to investigate offences relating to wildlife and the environment. These incidents tend to occur in isolated locations and, as such, often go undetected.
PC Bilton said: “These officers routinely work with external agencies and experts, many of which volunteer their time and efforts freely in order to protect the fauna and flora within the UK.
“Crimes investigated by officers are extensive but commonly include incidents of poaching or hunting, bird nest and egg destruction, and interference in badger setts.”
Ms Thorpe was called out by the force late one Saturday night to recover an injured badger found near York.
“We knew it had been shot with an air rifle illegally and, on being x-rayed by Mark Naguib, an experienced wildlife vet at Battle Flatts Vets in Stamford Bridge, air rifle pellets were clearly visible,” she said.
The female badger is in Ms Thorpe’s care and has lost an eye as a result of the attack.
“She’s recovering now, so I hope she can be released back into the wild. At first she wouldn’t eat and was very quiet. They do sometimes shut down when something traumatic has happened to them.”
In the third case, Ms Thorpe was called out to a badger sett in East Yorkshire that had been dug out and filled in again. Humberside Police are investigating.
Ms Thorpe said: “North Yorkshire in particular has a terrible reputation for bird of prey crimes and badger digging still goes on. At the moment the ‘lamping’ of wildlife at night is rife and, during the day, there’s a lot of hare coursing at this time of year, particularly in East Yorkshire. People need to be aware that these things are going on and, when they see something happening unusual or suspicious, they need to report it immediately.
“All too often, people will mention something two or three weeks after the event, but to be able to catch the perpetrators the police need to know about it when an incident is actually happening.”
A Humberside Police spokeswoman said: “The East Riding does have incidents of hare coursing due to its high hare population and the geographical make-up of the land.
“Humberside Police, working with Farm Watch groups, landowners and the local community, is committed to tackling this problem, which is predominantly committed by persons travelling from other parts of the country.