A joint North Yorkshire Police and RSPB investigation has been launched into the sudden disappearance of a hen harrier named Arthur.
The rare bird of prey had been tracked by the RSPB via a lightweight satellite tag since it hatched in the Peak District during the summer.
Arthur is one of more than 30 hen harriers tagged in England, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man this year as part of the charity’s Hen Harrier LIFE project.
Hen harriers are protected by law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. However, their numbers remain consistently low and are known to be subjected to human persecution.
After initially staying in the Peak District, Arthur moved to the Brecon Beacons in South Wales before flying to Nidderdale in North Yorkshire in mid-October.
On the morning of Friday 26 October he flew onto the North York Moors National Park.
Arthur’s last registered position was at 9.55am that same day when he was just north of Lowna Bridge, near Hutton-le-Hole.
The body or the tracking tag have not been located despite extensive searches by the RSPB investigations team
This has led to suspicions that Arthur may have deliberately come to harm and the tag has been destroyed.
Sergeant Kevin Kelly, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “The sudden disappearance of Arthur is deeply concerning and we are working with the RSPB to establish the full circumstances surrounding the incident.
“This is a severe blow to the Hen Harrier project and an unwanted addition to the already concerning and ever-raising numbers of hen harriers that are just ‘vanishing’.
“I encourage any information that could help me forward this investigation. These rare birds are one of the jewels in the crown of the English countryside. We have been looking around last known locations but there has been no sign of Arthur.
“Anyone who may have information that could assist the investigation is urged to come forward as soon as possible.”
Please call North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 1, and speak to the Force Control Room. Or email RuralTaskforce@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk.
Contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 if you would prefer to remain anonymous.
Please quote reference number NYP-31102018-0238 when providing information about this incident.
Anyone who finds a wild bird that is suspected to have been illegally killed is urged to contact RSPB investigations on 01767 680551 or fill in the online form: https://www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/our-positions-and-campaigns/positions/wildbirdslaw/reportform.aspx
Members of the public can also call the Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101 and speak to someone in confidence with any information about people killing birds of prey.Last modified: November 12, 2018