Northamptonshire Police backs national campaign to protect birds of prey
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Rural and wildlife officers at Northamptonshire Police are joining forces with Forest England and the RPSCA this weekend to support a national campaign tackling the illegal persecution of birds of prey.
Operation Owl is raising awareness of how to spot evidence of crimes against wildlife and birds of prey, and encourages people to accurately record what they see and report offences to the police to help bring offenders to justice.
In the UK, all wild birds, their nests and eggs are protected by law, and it is illegal to intentionally kill, injure or take wild birds without a licence, with offences carrying a prison sentence of up to six months.
PC Chris Bird, rural and wildlife crime officer at Northamptonshire Police, said: “Thankfully Northamptonshire has low levels of raptor persecution, but sadly offences do still happen here, such as the fatal shooting of a buzzard in Hargrave in March.
“We’re proud to work with our local partners to support Operation Owl and raise awareness of the issue of the persecution of birds of prey, to help protect the beautiful wildlife of our county.
“Both this weekend and all year round, we’re asking people to be our eyes and ears in the countryside, and to let us know about suspicious activity and possible wildlife crimes, such as the use of poisoned bait and illegal pole traps.
“Our wildlife-trained police officers and PCSOs can then examine reports and scenes to establish if a crime has been committed, gathering evidence and hopefully bringing those responsible to justice.”
Supporting the Northamptonshire launch of Operation Owl at Salcey Forest was charity Raptor Rescue, which rehabilitates birds of prey found hurt or injured, as well as representatives from Forest England and the RSPCA.
Daniel Burns, South Northants beat forester at Forest England, said: “As well as providing interest and enjoyment for visitors, our woodlands are home to wildlife that contributes to healthy natural ecosystems.
“Some of our best-loved wildlife, including birds of prey, depends on our careful and sustained land management for its survival, so we’re very happy to support Operation Owl to help protect raptors.”
Operation Owl was originally launched by North Yorkshire Police after the county recorded high levels of crimes against birds of prey.
Backed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council, it has now been rolled out across the country, with more than 25 forces signed up for this year’s weekend of action which runs from today, Friday, September 20, to Sunday, September 22.