Buzzard found shot in Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

North Yorkshire Police are appealing for information after the discovery of a shot buzzard in Nidderdale AONB.

Press release (7 May 2020):

Appeal for information after injured buzzard found near Kirkby Malzeard

North Yorkshire Police investigating after incident in which bird appears to have been shot

A member of the public was walking on a footpath near Belford Lane, Kirkby Malzeard, on 13 April 2020 when they found an injured buzzard. After seeking expert help, the bird was caught and taken to a local vet where x-rays showed the bird suffering a broken wing and also the profile of a shotgun pellet in the wing.

[Buzzard x-ray, via North Yorkshire Police]

[RPUK map showing approximate location of Belford Lane, Kirkby Malzeard, in Nidderdale AONB]

The bird’s injury was too severe to be treated so it was sadly put to sleep. A specialist avian veterinary surgeon has subsequently reviewed the x-rays, concluding:

The buzzard has suffered an open fracture of the left humerus (upper wing). A shotgun pellet is visible sitting in the axilla/shoulder joint. There appeared to be soft tissue changes and a potential dislocation of the shoulder. No shotgun pellet is present at the fracture site, however it is possible that either

  1. The shotgun pellet entered through the wing, damaging and fracturing the humerus before settling in the axilla region – it is difficult to tell without examining the bird for open wounds or changes to the feathers suggesting shot.
  2. The damage to the shoulder resulted in the bird injuring its wing after being unable to fly

Buzzards, along with all wild birds, are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is a criminal offence to kill or injure any wild bird.  The government has set persecution of birds of prey as one of their wildlife crime action priorities.

If you have any information which could help this investigation please contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 quoting reference number: 12200064619 or alternatively contact the investigating officer PC820 Hickson by email:


Nidderdale AONB, again. What a surprise, said nobody, ever.

Regular readers of this blog will be only too aware of Nidderdale AONB’s reputation as a massive wildlife crime scene. We’ve blogged about it many, many times including the poisoning and shooting of red kiteshen harriersbuzzardsmarsh harriers on Nidderdale grouse moors (as reported by the AONB partnership in September 2019). As recently as January this year the police were appealing for information after a kestrel had been found shot. A bloody kestrel, FFS!

We’ve also seen how the local community is turning against the criminals in their midst which is hardly surprising when according to the Chair of the Nidderdale AONB these crimes are “starting to have a damaging effect on tourism businesses”. 

[Nidderdale AONB sign, photo by Ruth Tingay]

Earlier this year, the game shooting industry issued a statement claiming a ‘zero tolerance’ stance against the illegal killing of birds of prey (see here). It appears to have had zero effect, with raptors still being targeted even though the country is in lockdown in the midst of a national health crisis. This latest victim is just one of a number that we’re aware of – several other recent cases from around the country are still to be publicised.

Well done North Yorkshire Police for the relatively quick appeal for information, especially when many police resources have been diverted to deal with Covid 19. Having a specialist veterinary surgeon review the x-rays and provide an expert opinion was a particularly good move in light of some of the most ridiculous denials we’ve seen from some within the gameshooting industry in recent weeks.

This, for example, following the recent shooting of another buzzard in North Yorkshire, where first it was implied that rehabilitation expert Jean Thorpe might consider faking a crime by using an old x-ray and then that the x-ray shouldn’t be believed anyway because apparently it could easily show a buzzard that had been killed in a road traffic accident with bullets glued on to the corpse to fake a shooting:

You couldn’t make it up, could you?

One more time: If you have any information which could help this investigation please contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 quoting reference number: 12200064619 or alternatively contact the investigating officer PC820 Hickson by email:

21 thoughts on “Buzzard found shot in Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)”

  1. Another lockdown victim or just business as usual from the wildlife killing scum? It will be interesting and depressing to see how big the spike in raptor slaughter is after the lockdown.

  2. I can remember a Hen Harrier picnic at Grimwith Reservoir a few years ago where I welcomed those attending by saying “welcome to the heart of darkness” and nothing has changed, the bastards are still at it, still putting to fingers up to the law, raptor workers and local opinion. Went will it end we all ask, when driven shooting of all types is gone. Only then will the ignorant primitive vermin that kill our wildlife be cast into the unemployable oblivion they deserve along with their feudal masters. There was bound to be an increase in this sort of criminality during Lock down when there are fewer eyes and ears in the countryside, lets hear and see some vehement condemnation locally please.

  3. Why can’t the police start with the nearest shotgun licence holders, the buzzard hasn’t flown far with a broken wing. Have a temporary confiscation until enquiries have been completed. Surely they can’t claim trespassers on their patch did it during the present lock down.

    1. What is interesting is that every perpetrator of these crimes is known to at least one if not more people, employers, mates and fellow game keepers who do the same thing. What is surprising is that the police have not been able to gather enough intelligence over the, how many?, years to identify these criminals as soon as a bird of prey turns up shot. Having personally experienced, a number of times, the almost total lack of interest in properly investigating wildlife crime by local police I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised!!

      1. I’m sure that in many of these cases the police will have a very strong suspicion as who the culprit is. However that is very different from having enough evidence to get said person into court never mind convict. North Yorkshire Police are fully committed to trying to solve this scourge of the county and any failings are not for want of trying.
        It may however be true that some other forces are less assiduous in the pursuit of wildlife criminals.

        1. Totally take your point. Although there clearly needs a change in strategy/tactics by the police and/or changes in law to obtain evidence and ultimately convictions. Seems it’s been talked about for so long with only very limited success. I am led to believe by someone who knows that only 1% of cases of this type of crime ever come to light!

        2. Like Psul says no doubt the police have a pretty good idea of the culprits behind these crimes but having enough proof to haul them up in front of the beak is totally different matter. Relying on local info is a bithard as many local residents are beholden to estates in varying ways,I have family who are very wary of what they say in our company

  4. Is it permitted to shoot during the lockdown? I presume not.
    If it isn’t permitted surely someone saw or heard something? Come on Yorkshire turn on the mafia.

  5. On a different tack: perhaps the wonderful Jean Thorpe should be suing that expletive deleted for defamation? I’d contribute to a crowd-funder for that.

  6. So there’s about 400-500+ shots in a cartridge fired by a shotgun.

    If we’re are to believe this article, only one managed to hit the bird.

    The more plausible reason for it, is that it has been shot by an air rifle but that wouldn’t fit the PR narrative of it being a gamekeeper from a grouse moor.

    1. Regardless of the fact that it’s easy to tell the difference, airguns are nice and quiet aren’t they? Just the thing for keepers.

  7. One of the problems with these crimes is that many of those in the local community do not view the killing of raptors with sufficient seriousness. Whilst a few may be angered, many simply accept what is going on with “blindness”, and won’t provide evidence to the police for many reasons. Only when local communities start to view “the gamekeeper” with the similar sort of suspicion and loathing that urban communities view “the drug dealer” will information start flowing to the police.
    But the question does need to be asked, where sufficient suspicion exists about a suspects involvement in these crimes against raptors, why isn’t targeted covert surveillance or the use of mobile data to place an individual within the vicinity of these crimes being used? Does this need a change in legislation to allow the police to use these tactics? I understand the authority for such tactics is governed by Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, which is notoriously difficult to fully comprehend, and also to obtain the necessary authority for the use of such tactics.
    Sadly until the police can use such tactics, or there is a change in sentencing guidelines which impose far tougher sentences on the perpetrators and the landowners where the crimes are occurring, or until local rural communities have a wholesale change in attitude towards those responsible for these crimes, the illegal persecution of raptors will continue.

    But there is nothing to stop the police, parking up outside “gamekeepers” houses, or on moorland roads which run over grouse moors, and very visibly displaying their presence. This sort of tactic has been used with some success in targeting burglars and thieves. Its a bit of a mind game, and sends out the message- “we are watching!”. How much of a success it could have with reducing raptor persecution would be anyone’s guess?

    And as for the whether shooting is permitted within this lockdown period. Over the last week I have watched local gamekeepers trap and shot crows and jackdaws caught in larsen traps positioned near to a local grouse moor. The culling has been to such an extent, that the valley in which the traps were placed, which was only a few weeks ago noisy to sound of these birds, is now a place of deathly silence….just like the adjacent moor! The pair of Red Kites, which I had also been watching for the last few months have also mysteriously vanished in the last two weeks.

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