Police investigate shooting of bird of prey in Peak District National Park

April Roach
Greater Manchester Police and the RSPB are appealing for information after a buzzard was found shot near Diggle, in the Peak District National Park

Police and the RSPB are investigating after a bird of prey was found riddled with lead shot in the Peak District National Park.

The injured buzzard was found near Diggle on May 11 by a member of the public who contacted the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

The bird had to be euthanised at a vets the next morning due to the extent of its injuries.

RSPB Investigations Officer Jack Ashton-Booth, who drove the dying bird to the vets, said it was "devastating" to hold the body of the bird in his hands and know there was nothing he could do to save it.

An x-ray revealed the body of the buzzard contained six pieces of lead shot. Further post-mortem analysis showed the bird of prey had survived after being shot at an earlier occasion.

An x-ray showed the buzzard had been shot at an earlier occasion (RSPB)

“To hold the body of a bird in your hands that’s been riddled with lead shot, knowing that you probably can’t do anything to save it, is devastating," said Mr Ashton-Booth.

"That is the reality of raptor persecution. We are grateful to the member of the public who reported this incident.

"If you find a bird of prey dead or injured in suspicious circumstances, please report it to the police. We’re certain that more birds will be killed than we ever find or hear about.”

All birds of prey are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and to intentionally kill or injure one is a criminal offence that could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months in jail.

However the northern Peak District is a hotspot for the shooting, trapping and poisoning of birds of prey.

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police, said: “Shooting a bird of prey is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and I would appeal to hear from anyone with information.”

The RSPB’s Investigations Team recently reported a surge of potential and confirmed incidents of bird of prey persecution since March when the coronavirus lockdown was implemented.

It is believed that the absence of visitors and raptor workers from key parts of the countryside may have served as an invitation to some to increase their efforts to kill birds of prey.

If you have any information relating to this incident, call Greater Manchester Police on 101.

If you find a wild bird of prey which you suspect has been illegally killed, contact RSPB Investigations on 01767 680551 or fill in the online form.

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