AT LEAST once every two months a bird of prey is persecuted in North Yorkshire, according to new figures released by police.
Between 2004 and 2013, North Yorkshire Police recorded 70 incidents of the crime which has included the illegal poisoning of 14 red kites, six buzzards, one goshawk and one peregrine.
In many cases, animal carcasses laced with poison have been involved.
As part of efforts to tackle what has been described as a “worrying extent” of wildlife crime in the region, North Yorkshire Police is launching a poster campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of illegal wildlife poisoning.
Officers warn that not only is the practice cruel and illegal, it also poses a serious health risk for members of the public and their pets.
The new “hard-hitting” posters will be distributed in rural areas such as the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors, and displayed in national park centres, parish council notice boards and other key public places.
Sergeant Stuart Grainger, of Leyburn Police, said: “Animal carcasses laced with poison are sometimes deliberately used to kill other wildlife, particularly birds of prey. This practice is cruel and illegal, and such poisoned bait is also a serious risk to the health of members of the public and their children or pets if they come into contact with them.
“If you find a mammal or bird that you believe has been poisoned, please do not touch it, as poisons can transfer through contact with skin. Please also keep your children and pets well away. Instead, make a note of the location, and anything else that is around or near the animal, and contact North Yorkshire Police by dialling 101, or the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme on 0800 321 600.”
David Butterworth, chief executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA), added: “The extent of illegal persecution against birds of prey is extremely worrying. The YDNPA would advise that anyone visiting the Dales who comes across any suspected poisoning incident to contact the police immediately.”
North Yorkshire Police has 16 wildlife crime officers who, along with their normal duties, volunteer to investigate wildlife offences.