Police believe barn owls were stolen to order in North Yorkshire

Police are investigating the possibility that barn owls have been stolen to order in the Ryedale area.

A barn owl chick

A male and female adult bird have been nesting in a man-made barn owl box placed in an oak tree between Sheriff Hutton and Bulmer and have successfully reared chicks in the location for the last seven years under the watch of locals.

It is thought that around July 3, thieves used ladders to get the box down from the tree. Two of the nearly fledged chicks were killed and an adult and chick were removed from the box and taken away.

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The incident was reported to the police on July 5 and officers are now appealing for any information such as whether anyone has been offered adult or young barn owls for sale in suspicious circumstances or if they know of anyone who has bought a barn owl in the last week or so.

A North Yorkshire Police spokesperson said: "Barn owls can be bred legally in captivity but it is an offence to take birds from the wild. It would appear that these birds have been stolen to order. All barn owls in captivity will have important paperwork and should have a ring on their leg."

Anyone with information is asked to contact 101, select option 2, and ask for PC 931 Jez Walmsley or email [email protected]

To remain anonymous, pass information to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, quote the North Yorkshire Police reference number 121701194334.