Buzzard shot in Barnsley: South Yorks Police abandons case, RSPB appeals for info

RSPB press statement:

Buzzard shot in Barnsley sparks investigation

A buzzard found illegally shot in a wood near Barnsley has prompted concern by the RSPB and police.

A local birder saw the bird fall out of a tree in Warren Wood, Stainborough on 9 August and reported it to the RSPB’s Investigations unit (crime@rspb.org.uk). An RSPB investigator recovered the bird and it was taken for an X-ray. The X-ray identified a broken wing and a shotgun pellet lodged in the wing, which was deemed to have caused the break.

The wound was thought to be several days old and had become infected, so sadly the bird had to be euthanized.

It is illegal to intentionally kill or harm any bird of prey, which are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To kill or injure one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months in jail.

The incident was reported to police immediately, and last week the RSPB was informed that the enquiry had concluded with no prosecution. The RSPB is now appealing to the public for information.

The RSPB’s recent Birdcrime report, published on 1 November 2017, revealed that the illegal shooting, trapping and poisoning of birds of prey is a big problem in Yorkshire. Last year the RSPB received reports of 153 incidents of wild bird crime in the North England Region: this was 33% of the total incidents for the UK and the highest number for any region. 10 of these occurred in South Yorkshire, and many more are suspected to have taken place unseen and undetected. The report also revealed that there were no prosecutions for bird of prey persecution in the whole of 2016.

David Hunt, RSPB Investigations Officer, recovered the body.

David said: “It is sickening to think that this bird was deliberately shot. Seeing a buzzard soaring high in the sky or picking up worms from a freshly-turned field is part of the joy of a walk in the countryside. However majestic birds like these are, more often than people realise, being intentionally and brutally killed in Yorkshire, and is a cause for local concern. This is not the first time I have been called out to a case like this and unfortunately it is often very hard to find out who is responsible. If you do have information, please come forward.”

The RSPB is offering a £1,000 reward for information that leads to a successful conviction. If you have any information relating to this incident, call South Yorkshire Police on 101 quoting reference number 617 10082017.


Warren Wood, where the injured buzzard was found is within the grounds of Stainborough Park and Wentworth Castle. Warren Wood forms part of Broom Royd Wood (see point 8 on this map) where visitors are encouraged to “visit in spring for a beautiful display of bluebells“.

Wentworth Castle and its parkland was open to the public but now appears to have closed to visitors, according to the website.

What’s really interesting about this case though is how South Yorkshire Police have responded to it. The RSPB press statement says the “incident was reported to the police immediately“, which presumably means on 9th August 2017 when the bird was found. And yet now South Yorkshire Police have told the RSPB that the enquiry has concluded and there’ll be no prosecution.

So how come South Yorkshire Police didn’t launch a public appeal for information back in August? How come the Police enquiry ‘has concluded’ without asking for the public’s help to identify a suspect? That’s pathetic, and only serves to highlight the importance of reporting suspected raptor persecution crimes to the RSPB as well as to the Police. Had the RSPB not been informed about this particular crime, we’d all be none the wiser and the crime probably wouldn’t have made it on to the ‘official’ list of reported wildlife crimes.

Well done RSPB for keeping the public informed.

UPDATE 14.50hrs:

South Yorkshire Police haven’t got a clue. This has just appeared on Twitter:


7 Responses to “Buzzard shot in Barnsley: South Yorks Police abandons case, RSPB appeals for info”

  1. 1 Ernie Scales
    November 10, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    The stupidity/laziness of some police forces/officers defies belief. Could have added corruption (or as Private Eye puts it arselickan) but no proof.

  2. 2 Tim Dixon
    November 10, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    Ironically, their website states – “The parkland is also an important wildlife resource and also an example of good farming practices which work in harmony with the land. The Trust works closely with its farm tenants and local wildlife groups to enhance the biodiversity of the parkland.” So that’s working well then!

  3. November 10, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    Am i missing something here?
    The RSPB says ‘The wound was thought to be several days old and had become infected’
    and yet RPUK writes
    ‘an unidentified armed gunman used a shotgun to commit an offence in the castle’s public parkland’
    How do we know it was in the Parkland. Was it at a nest site?

    • November 10, 2017 at 6:19 pm

      Have a close look at that x-ray, Prasad, especially the state of the humerus. It’s unlikely to have been able to move far from where it was shot.

      • 5 Trooper
        November 10, 2017 at 7:57 pm

        With a break of that severity I’m confused as to how it was seen falling out of a tree? I wouldn’t have thought it would have been able to fly. Perhaps the break occurred when it fell out of the tree, already weakened by the pellet. Either way, Prasad raises a valid point – if the bird was seen falling out of a tree, it’s fair to say to suggest the crime possibly wasn’t committed where the bird was found.

  4. 7 Gerard
    November 10, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    South Yorkshire Police have a pretty bad reputation of zero interest in wildlife crime. I know of one other case where hare coursing was filmed on public land and nothing happened due to lacklustre follow up.

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