North Yorkshire Police is calling for the public to take part in Operation Owl - a national initiative to prevent the persecution of birds of prey in our countryside.
North Yorkshire is known for its wonderful countryside, which is home to many species of birds – including protected birds of prey (also known as raptors).
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act it is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take wild birds. Nevertheless birds of prey are still shot, poisoned and trapped – especially in areas where the land is managed for driven grouse shooting. Sadly, as a county, North Yorkshire has more confirmed incidents of raptor persecution than any other county in England – a situation we are determined to tackle.
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, and to report suspicious activity to the police.
In June 2019, Operation Owl was rolled out nationally and in September 2019, the first national awareness weekend took place with 25 police forces across the country taking part and standing against bird of prey persecution.
In North Yorkshire, through Op Owl:
- We carry out surveillance checks on known raptor persecution hot-spots at random times to disrupt offender activity.
- We work with local landowners to make them aware of the legal position on raptor persecution.
- National Park volunteers are trained to identify the signs of raptor persecution across the national parks.
- We raise public awareness of raptor persecution by distributing information at country fairs, tourist venues, vets surgeries, animal marts and local community venues.
- We encourage the public to be our eyes and ears, keep a look out for dead or injured birds, poisoned bait and pole traps, and report these to the police on 101.
By participating in Op Owl, the public can help to bring those who illegal harm wild birds to justice.