Buzzard found with shotgun injuries near Askham Richard, North Yorkshire

Press statement from North Yorkshire Police (19 January 2021)

Appeal for information after buzzard found containing shot at Askham Richard

On 12 December 2020, a  member of the public located a buzzard close to Askham Park near Askham Richard.

The female bird appeared to be injured and was unable to fly so an RSPCA Inspector attended and transported the bird to a local vet. Unfortunately the buzzard subsequently died.

X-rays revealed that the bird had two pieces of lead shot within its body. 

Enquiries are ongoing but if you have any information which could help the investigation, please get in touch with North Yorkshire Police by calling 101 and quoting reference number: 12200227625.

ENDS

18 thoughts on “Buzzard found with shotgun injuries near Askham Richard, North Yorkshire”

  1. The current orgy of crime by the usual suspects was entirely predictable based on what happened during the previous lookdown

  2. Until we can ensure that children and young people, particularly those growing up within families and communities where this kind of illegal activity is actively encouraged or condoned, are educated to understand that it is WRONG – illegal, immoral and cruel – and, in effect, change their mindsets, we will continue to spit into the wind! Raptor persecution remains an issue which policing, the courts and the fantastic work of NGOs & individuals will be unable to solve without help from those involved in farming, shooting, hunting, game-keeping, pigeon-fancying, field sports and anyone else who buys their child a gun for his or her birthday as a ‘rite of passage’ thus setting them on the path towards blasting any bird or prey they see out of the sky!

  3. It seems to be almost a daily occurrence that we learn of the death of yet another bird of prey, and this is only what is reported.
    Not only is it sickening, but it’s evidence of a crime epidemic in our countryside against wildlife that is supposedly protected by law.
    These are crimes against nature. Crimes that deprive the rest of society seeing these majestic creatures soaring over our countryside. Crimes that are rarely detected. Crimes where the current legislation is ineffective at tackling the root cause. Crimes that politicians seem to want to do little about.
    Humans will always, snarl, squabble and fight each other- history tells us that, but when we allow our base behaviour to treat other creatures that pose absolutely no threat to our own existence in such a depraved manner then there is a problem.
    It’s time that as a society we looked very hard at not only our wildlife legislation, but at much of the periphery legislation surrounding much of the management of our countryside.
    I am truly angered by what is going on, and its time there was meaningful change, so that those behind these crimes were properly dealt with, and prevented from ever committing such abominable acts in the future.

    It’s very telling that at the moment, when I go out for my daily permitted exercise and walk over the estate near my house, I regularly hear the sound of a shotgun being fired somewhere on that estate. When the gun is fired, no doubt some poor creature is dying. Is that how we really want our countryside managed???

  4. It’s more than a little worrying that these criminals are wandering around the countryside with firearms.
    Ordinary folks would be Tracked.

  5. You know, those look a bit big for shotgun pellets. They look like they’re in the BB range of sizes, that is to say 4.5mm or thereabouts. BB shot isn’t used very much in shotguns save by wildfowlers and farmers shooting stock-worrying dogs, but it is used in very cheap airguns.

    One other trick that very cheap airgun users do is to load two BBs into one shot, which if it hits something provides a bit more knock-down, but which also ruins the aim. BB guns are also generally smoothbores, so the aim on them is of the level of “Over there somewhere”.

    So, I’d be thinking “teenager with airgun” for this one, rather than “shotgun”, although that would change if you extracted the pellets.

    1. Am I not correct in thinking BB guns discharge one pellet at a time, and whilst some BB guns have a “blowback system” so another pellet is automatically loaded, there is still a time lag between pellet discharge?
      There is some research that this type of loading system effects accuracy, so would the chance of someone hitting something as small as a buzzard twice with an automatic loading system bb gun be quite a remote possibility?
      I understand air guns which shoot the traditional diabolo shaped lead pellets are not generally capable of shooting spherical steel BB pellets due to the rifling in the barrel.
      Shotgun shot comes in a range of sizes ranging from 2.0mm to 9.1mm.
      Due to the close grouping of the 2 pieces of shot in the buzzard, and bearing in mind the inaccuracy of BB guns as opposed to a firearm with a rifled barrel -would it not be more of a probability that the shot was from a shotgun cartridge loaded with higher gauge shot, which would still give a spread of shot?
      As you say this could be determined if the shot was forensically examined by a ballistics experts.

      But this is an academic discussion, and diversion to what took place in this incident; as whatever type of firearm was used the act was a crime, a wildlife offence and potentially a firearms offence.

      Maybe it’s time for a proper discussion on firearm ownership, so that legislation is introduced to ensure that firearms of whatever type are never permitted to be in the hands of a moron who will use that gun to commit criminal acts.

    2. Hi Dr Dan. Large shot cartridges such as BBs and No3’s are used a lot by keepers. This has been standard practice from the year dot. If he is an old timer and uses a s/s or o/u then he will likely always keep some on him in the event he has a half-chance at a Fox or something special at extreme range, and can quickly swap out his 6’s. Likewise, if he uses a 5-shot auto then the first 3 cartridges will be 5s or 6s, and the last 2 in the magazine are usually large shot such as 3’s and even BB’s…for desperate measures /extreme long shots when he has fired off all the rest to no avail.

    3. It’s just over 3 miles from my house and on my usual commute to work, so let me share some local knowledge. Askham Richard hosts a prison. There are very few public rights of way around Askham Park: a busy highway and a boundary footpath through farmland. This is not an area where you would get a bored teenager wandering freely with an air rifle. Neither the local landowners, nor the prison authorities would allow this.
      What it does have is a network of small copses and woodland blocks and is a fairly typical farm shoot. Several of our Buzzards (and Kites) often have some ‘interesting’ wing moult patterns.

  6. Need much much tighter shotgun controls. Clearly there are still criminals with shotguns that should not have them. Until there are stricter conditions and higher licencing costs to the ownership and use of shotguns this will continue.

    1. Richard
      I totally agree.
      If a youth on a housing estate was in possession of an air weapon and was shooting at a targets such as tin cans, or even pigeons or crows, I think it most probable a police firearms unit would be dispatched and then enquiries made to identify and arrest the culprit. I am sure the youth would be charged with every offence which the CPS could think of, and the gun disposed of.
      However when a criminal in the countryside shoots birds of prey, species of national concern and protected by law, the response is frequently little more than a witness appeal on twitter.
      There is a real imbalance in the way these two offenders are dealt with.
      Both offenders have the intention to act unlawfully, both are committing criminal offences with a firearm, both by discharging a firearm present a risk to any public who may be in the vicinity.
      Nether is a fit and proper person to posses a firearm.
      So why the robust response in one case, and totally apathy in the other?
      It’s time those who live in the countryside and misuse firearms where treated as the criminals they really are.

      I would also make it mandatory for every person who possess a firearm to be subject to annual tests to ensure not only are they medically capable of possessing a firearm, but also that they have an ability to use the weapon safely and shoot accurately. Where ownership of guns is claimed as necessary for vermin control or game shooting, any applicant should in addition have to pass annual examinations to obtain a hunting permit, similar to the requirements in France.
      Gun ownership should not be a “right” but a privilege and granted only where necessity can be shown.

      The shear number of raptors being shot is a clear demonstration that the current government policies regarding reducing raptor crime are not working, and it’s high time politicians showed a bit of wit, and started to consider other strategies to end these appalling crimes. One of these strategies should involve reducing the number of firearms owned by the public, especially shotguns which appear to be the weapon most frequently used in raptor crime.
      Whilst this may appear unfair to those who own shotguns and use them for legitimate purposes, the threat of the loss of the right to posses a gun might make them less tolerant of those who use guns to commit wildlife crimes, and might result in a flow of information to the police following a raptor crime, rather than the all too often wall of silence!!

      This current state of affairs, with the almost daily report of the illegal killing of a bird of prey has to stop.

  7. Dear Raptor Persecution UK

    I was recently sent a questionnaire by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (registered to Fordingbridge, Hampshire) on their call to the Welsh government to support an initiative for Curlew conservation measures. The key question which I responded to was whether this should be approached by single-species conservation measures or through broader environmental measures. I supported the latter but recognised the need for approaches that recognised Curlow ecological requirements.

    Remember the Strathbraan Perthshire case re. SNH licence for Raven control a couple of years ago? I think G&WCT are angling for a similar arrangement and using this NRW call presented below as an opportunity. See this call for species control led by NRW for evidence to pursue species-control measures on birds.

    Jonathan Stacey

  8. Am I right in believing that the shooting industry isn`t much bothered about stamping this criminality from within?.
    This sounds naïve I know. The FA had to stamp out football hooliganism by banning clubs from competing and hooligan fans from attending. Sorted.

  9. I do not believe that it is remotely possible to educate these criminals out of their activities.
    Not only must those that are caught be prosecuted and given life changing sentences, but there has to be a campaign to have them branded as pariahs like drink drivers so that respectable people will not hesitate to report their activities to the police.

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