Police urge public to protect Yorkshire's wildlife after three kestrels shot dead and numerous sheep killed in dog attack

Police are urging people to protect wildlife across Yorkshire during the country's third national lockdown following a spate of incidents.

West Yorkshire Police has already recorded three fatal shootings of kestrels in the first week of January alone, compared to just one in the whole of 2020.

Two offences took place in Huddersfield and one in Leeds.

There have also been numerous reports of sheep worrying; interference with badger setts and hunting with dogs.

A badger sett was set on fire in Huddersfield back in May 2020.

Over the weekend, 18 sheep were attacked and killed and several more injured by what police believe was an out-of-control dog in Northallerton, North Yorkshire.

Police warning posters have since been posted in the area where the attacks took place.

Wildlife crime officer Shaun Taylor, of West Yorkshire Police, said the force recorded a slight increase in the number of offences reported to them during the first lockdown back in March 2020 and are appealing for people to be vigilant.

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18 sheep killed and more injured by out of control dog in North Yorkshire

“Once a habitat is gone, it’s gone as it takes years to restore and that is the harsh reality.

“There have been a number of sheep worrying incidents and they are really tough to deal with.

“One of our officers described a recent scene as a battlefield and we really need to get this message out there to people. Dog owners must keep their animals on a lead when going through a field full of sheep, otherwise there could be disastrous consequences.”

Anyone who witnesses a wildlife crime or anyone who has any information is urged to contact police immediately.

PC Taylor said: “We now have more wildlife officers than we have ever had before and we are working with other agencies and farming groups to tackle any issues that arise. We are also out there patrolling and acting on intelligence and information.”