Reward offered after rare bird of prey shot

Bowland Betty, being fitted with a tracking device before she was shot and killed (S)
Bowland Betty, being fitted with a tracking device before she was shot and killed (S)
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The RSPB is offering a £1000 reward for information after a rare bird of prey was shot and killed on Colsterdale, in the Nidderdale AONB.

The body of the bird, a female Hen Harrier known as “Bowland Betty”, was found on Thorny Grain Moor on July 5 this year.

Bowland Betty was fitted with a satellite tracker as part of a project to help protect the rare breed.

Over the past year, the tag showed she had travelled as far afield as Caithness in Scotland, Bowland in Lancashire, where she was raised, and the moors above Nidderdale and Colsterdale.

But in June the satellite data showed the bird had stopped moving, raising fears for her safety and her body was found, with the help of landowners the Swinton Estate, soon after. Her body was sent for pioneering forensic examinations at the Zoological Society of London and University College London, which found the bird had been shot.

Now police are appealing for help to track down those responsible.

PC Gareth Jones, Harrogate and District Wildlife Crime Officer, said: “The shooting of this rare and majestic bird is against the law, and it beggars belief that in 2012 a bird of this status has been shot and killed.”

The RSPB also condemned the shooting and have offered the £1000 reward for information.

Bob Elliot, Head of RSPB Investigations, said: “The Hen Harrier is on the brink of extinction as a breeding species in England and the loss of yet another bird to illegal persecution is sickening.

“We are offering a reward of £1000 for anyone with information which leads to a conviction. We would urge people with information to contact North Yorkshire Police or call our confidential hotline 0845 4663636.”

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), the UK’s largest shooting organisation, has also condemned the attack. A spokesman said: “We unreservedly condemn this crime and urge anyone who shoots who may have any information to come forward and assist the police.

“Anyone shooting a protected species damages shooting and the countryside and has no place among the law-abiding shooting community. BASC would have no hesitation in expelling any member found guilty of such a crime.”

Anyone who can help police with their enquires is urged to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 – select option 2 – and ask for Gareth Jones or Harrogate police.

If you wish to remain anonymous, Crimestoppers can be contacted on 0800 555 111.