An initiative implemented by North Yorkshire Police to reduce the number of illegal attacks on birds of prey has been rolled out across the country.
Launched in February 2018, Operation Owl is a joint initiative by North Yorkshire Police, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA), together with the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks.
The initiative set out to raise awareness of raptor persecution, encouraging the public to be vigilant for signs of this criminal activity, whilst increasing police surveillance checks on known hot-spots in order to disrupt offender activity. North Yorkshire is home to a diverse population of birds of prey (also known as raptors) and sadly suffers the highest levels of raptor persecution in the country – something which Operation Owl sets out to tackle.
Operation Owl has now launched as a nationwide initiative led by Superintendent Nick Lyall, Head of Operations at Bedfordshire Police and National Chair of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group in partnership with the North Yorkshire Police Rural Taskforce. A new website will provide access to detailed information and resources to support the public in being vigilant for signs of raptor persecution and reporting anything incidents of concern.
Inspector Kevin Kelly, North Yorkshire Police’s operational lead for wildlife crime, said: “Today is a proud milestone for North Yorkshire Police as Operation Owl goes national. I’m amazed by the commitment and enthusiasm of our staff really driving what’s important to our public and making a measurable difference.
“I would also like to thank and pledge my continued support to Superintendent Nick Lyall from Bedfordshire Police who has really ignited a national passion to tackle raptor persecution. In countless statements I have said that partnership working is key to success, this shows what can be achieved if you really believe in the work you do.”
Bedfordshire Police Superintendent Nick Lyall said: “We are delighted to be able to launch Operation Owl nationally and the new website will be so important in helping to raise awareness of raptor persecution but also in encouraging the public to be vigilant for any signs of wildlife crime. I’m very grateful to Kev Kelly and the North Yorkshire Police Rural Taskforce for allowing me to pick up their great idea and roll it out nationally – it’s a fantastic example which shows just how effective partnership working can be.”