Five shot goshawks in Suffolk – RSPB offers £5K reward for information

Further to this morning’s blog about Suffolk Police finding five shot goshawks on Monday, that had been dumped at the edge of the King’s Forest near Thetford (see here), the RSPB has issued an appeal for information and is offering a £5K reward, it’s highest ever.

The five juvenile goshawks. X-rays revealed all had been shot.

Here is the joint statement from the RSPB and Suffolk Police:

Five young birds of prey, identified as rare Goshawks, have been found dead in suspicious circumstances in a Suffolk Forest.

The birds were discovered on Monday 16 January at the edge of Kings Forest and reported to Suffolk Police, who x-rayed the birds as part of their investigation and found all five birds to contain multiple pieces of shot.

All birds of prey are protected by law, and to kill or injure one could result in jail and/or an unlimited fine.

The RSPB is working with Suffolk Police to help identify the culprit and has offered a reward of £5,000 to anyone who comes forward with information which leads to a conviction. This is the highest amount ever offered by the conservation charity, which has described the incident as ‘Utterly despicable.’

Goshawks are elusive birds of prey, around the size of a Buzzard, with yellow eyes and streaked undersides. They live quietly in forests in a handful of locations in the UK including Thetford Forest where these birds were found.

Mark Thomas, the RSPB’s Head of Investigations UK, said: “Anyone who values the natural world and abhors those who actively and criminally look to destroy it will feel as outraged as we do about this utterly despicable incident. We are calling on anyone who has information to come forward to the police.”

The RSPB and other specialists are assisting the police with their ongoing investigation.

The illegal killing of birds of prey remains a widespread national problem. The RSPB’s annual Birdcrime report for 2021, published in November 2022, revealed 108 confirmed incidents of birds of prey being shot, trapped or poisoned. However, the true number is likely to be far higher. 

The report also found that Norfolk had the highest number of confirmed raptor persecution incidents than any other county in 2021.

Sergeant Brian Calver from Suffolk Police said: “This is a serious wildlife crime against an amazing schedule one bird of prey that was once driven to extinction in Britain. There is no place for such activity in modern times. Whoever is responsible for this needs to be brought to justice and I’d urge anybody with any information whatsoever to let us know.”

If you have any information, please call Suffolk Police on 101 and quote crime reference 37/3027/23. Alternatively, to get in touch anonymously, call the RSPB’s dedicated Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101.


UPDATE 5pm: Wild Justice also offers £5,000 reward (here)

UPDATE 19th January 2023: Crowdfunder launched to increase reward for information on five shot goshawks found in Suffolk (here)

10 thoughts on “Five shot goshawks in Suffolk – RSPB offers £5K reward for information”

  1. Words.
    Well done RSPB and Suffolk Police. Hopefully, we’ll catch the delinquent responsible.

  2. I am unused to the Police being quite so pro-active and direct with a wildlife crime:
    all within just two days. What a breath of fresh air are Suffolk Police!

  3. This despicable act leaves me lost for words and extremely angry. How much longer and how many more beautiful and endangered raptors are to be lost before the shooting of birds for pleasure is banned.
    The shooting industry is incapable of regulating itself and is complicit in raptor persecution, they’ve had enough time and warnings, we now need action.

  4. For anyone who doesn’t realise it, there’s a significance to them being dumped at Forestry England’s Kings Forest because the Goshawk population is there because of Forestry Commission, now Forestry England, protection over many, many years. I assisted (in a very small way) with protection in the early 1980s. A pair bred successfully for several years undetected – but the population was painfully slow to grow, almost certainly because juveniles left the forest and were shot at release pens in the surrounding super-intensive shoots. It was very encouraging a couple of years ago to see the satellite track of a young Goshawk that had safely done a tour of East Anglia – maybe things really were changing ? And now this happens. The nature of the crime is nothing less than a 2 fingered salute to anyone who cares about our natural world – after all, the criminal could simply have buried his victims. If shooting is setting out to antagonise the vast majority of people who care about the countryside this is a pretty going way of going about it. The shooting fraternity need to stop telling each other how wonderful they are (a la Countryside Alliance) and realise that there is a middle ground out there that they are successfully antagonising.

    1. “Forestry Commission, now Forestry England,”

      Slight update, here: Forestry Commission is a Government Department ( which – from 1st April 2019 – ‘sponsors’ Forestry England, an Executive Agency who manage the Public Forest Estate (

      Apparently, all done to create a ‘more distinct and recognisable brand identity’. Only 20% of Forestry England’s funding comes from the tax payer… they generate the rest themselves.

      And they appear to still have not issued an official complaint about the abandoned Police investigation into the poisoning of ‘their’ Dorset White-tailed Eagle:-(

  5. A shocking criminal act carried out on our raptors. I would like to think that the rewards offered may help with a proper investigation and conviction of those responsible, but being realistic this is too much to hope.

  6. Yet another bad apple…..there more than a few around.

    How many protected birds and mammals are being persecuted throughout the UK.

    This is a schedule 1 bird protected at the highest level in law and this incident involves 5 ….the persons responsible are common criminals commiting serious and organised crimes against our most protected species.

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