Wildlife crime

The North York Moors National Park Authority takes all incidents of wildlife crime, including the illegal persecution of birds of prey, extremely seriously.

North Yorkshire as a county has been identified as having the greatest number of confirmed incidents of raptor persecution and we are currently engaged in a number of measures relating to the enhanced detection of illegal activity.

It is important to note that while the National Park Authority serves as the guardian of the North York Moors - its magnificent landscapes, habitats, wildlife and tranquillity – we do not have a law-enforcement remit and we own less than 1% of the North York Moors by land area.

It is therefore imperative that we continue to work closely with North Yorkshire Police; providing eyes and ears, sharing intelligence and ensuring that as many people on the ground know what to look for and how to report any concern.

Our current activities with the North Yorkshire Police Rural Taskforce (whose focus is wildlife crime and rural affairs), include, but are not limited to:

  • Joint working on detection and enforcement, especially through the training of Rangers and our Volunteers regarding what to look out for and how to deal with any wildlife crime related concerns.
  • Regular articles are placed in our internal publications, to ensure that our Volunteers, including 150 voluntary rangers, appreciate the urgency of this issue and the priority that the National Park Authority attaches to it.
  • Information sharing and developing most effective communications channels.
  • Publicity campaigns with partners (including the RSPB and Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority) to raise awareness amongst visitors to the National Parks.
  • Our Chief Executive and other Officers continue to speak with landowners and representatives from the estates on the issue on a regular basis; North Yorkshire Police are also invited to present at meetings of estate reps, Parish Forums and other public forums.

The National Park Authority feels strongly that the illegal persecution of birds of prey undermines the work of law abiding landowners and gamekeepers and threatens the biodiversity, values and customs of the environment we serve to protect. We would therefore like to assure you that we will continue to work hard alongside others to help stamp out these appalling acts.

Operation Owl

Find out how you can help by being our 'eyes and ears' in the countryside and report any sightings of dead or injured birds or poisoned bait sites as part of Operation Owl. This is a multi-agency national initiative led by the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group, North Yorkshire Police Rural Task Force and the National Wildlife Crime Unit.

Who to contact

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, it is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take wild birds (except in certain situations, using certain methods and under General Licences issued by the Government).

Please be aware that not all trapping methods are illegal, and that many responsible land managers will use legal methods to control certain species of birds and mammals. The Government website provides comprehensive guidance around legal trapping, including details on what is and is not permitted, how traps must be deployed, and provides images of the different types of trap.

If you come across anything suspicious please report it to North Yorkshire Police or Cleveland Police, either on 999 if you witness a crime being committed, or, if you want to report a suspicious incident, then ring 101 and ask that the details are passed on to a Wildlife Crime Officer. Alternatively, contact North Yorkshire Police or Cleveland Police.

It is very important that if any signs are spotted, or illegal activity is known, this should be reported immediately. But it is important not to disturb the scene which could destroy the evidence they need - please do take photographs and to note the location. Find out what information the Police need and how to report it and together we can stop the illegal killing of our birds of prey.

If you want to speak in confidence about raptor persecution you can contact the RSPB hotline on 0300 9990101. The RSPB Investigations Team has many years of experience of investigating and combatting wildlife crime. Their website includes advice on what to do if you come across an incident.

Read more about the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) established to assist in the prevention and detection of wildlife crime.

Find out more about how North Yorkshire Police are tackling rural crime.

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