Kestrel found shot in Nidderdale AONB, North Yorkshire

Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in North Yorkshire is one of the most notorious raptor persecution blackspots in the UK.

Here it is in the news again, following the discovery of a critically injured kestrel suffering shotgun injuries. This is the THIRD shot kestrel we’ve reported on this blog in the last week (for the other two see here and here).


Appeal for information after kestrel found shot near Harrogate.

North Yorkshire Police is appealing for information after a kestrel was found severely injured in Birstwith.

A member of the public found the kestrel grounded and suffering injuries in Birstwith near Harrogate on 30 December 2019. The kestrel was quickly taken to a specialist vet for treatment, where x-rays found the body contained two shotgun pellets.

One pellet was near the right stifle and the other in the shoulder region which it is likely had caused a debilitating fracture. The injuries were deemed to be very recent and would have rendered the bird unable to fly so it is unlikely to have travelled far from where it had been shot. The kestrel was also in good bodily condition so the injuries are believed to have been sustained fairly recently before it was found.

Given the location of the fracture and the kestrel’s need for very fine control of flight in order to hover, the decision was sadly taken to humanely euthanase the bird.

North Yorkshire Police is appealing for anyone with information about this incident or who may have seen anything in the area shortly before the bird was found to please call 101 quoting reference number: 12190238326

If you wish to remain anonymous, you can pass information to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.



11 Responses to “Kestrel found shot in Nidderdale AONB, North Yorkshire”

  1. 1 WTF
    January 27, 2020 at 8:55 am

    This is not a part of the AONB usually associated with this type of crime. It just goes to show that you never know where the next opportunist is likely to be lurking.

  2. 2 Nigel
    January 27, 2020 at 8:57 am

    Who on earth would feel the need to shoot a beautiful harmless little bird like a Kestrel. It’s hardly going to carry away Babies or even worse Farmers precious Lambs!

  3. 3 Les Wallace
    January 27, 2020 at 9:31 am

    It’s become a thing for the other side to allege buzzards are responsible for kestrel decline – someone who is very likely a spy/plant in a local conservation group told me he knew of a researcher whose work was pointing in that direction and in fact the researcher had seen a buzzard pluck a kestrel out of the air while it was hovering!!! My goodness!! Three years down the line and still no sign of this being published…isn’t that strange? A falconer and keen shooter who is one of the Fieldsport Channel regulars was being interviewed by the Pace brothers when he said we need to look at buzzards and how they’ve affected kestrel and barn owl numbers. Barn owls do well in our area as long as they’ve got nest boxes, buzzards aren’t a problem…our friend might be better doing some carpentry rather than wanting to exercise his trigger finger. I wonder if this spate of recent kestrel shootings will get the fieldsports sector to outline the role of illegal persecution with the same dedication some of them were prepared to blame another raptor? One thing is for sure the past week has only been unusual in that shot kestrels have been found and reported. Some people are just pricks who’ll shoot everything they can, others have a special pathological hatred for any predator.

    • 4 Secret Squirrel
      January 27, 2020 at 2:11 pm

      I can see circumstances where Buzzards and Kestrels could come into conflict, as most larger predators are unlikely to tolerate other predators in their area. We have a small amount of pheasant shooting round here, yet buzzard numbers are pretty high and kestrel numbers are fairly low (with Sparrowhawks somewhere in between). I suspect the answer to lower Kestrel numbers lies in prey rather than predation. (and road kill )

      Kestrels are probably shot ‘just’ because they are raptors – shooting target species will go to ground if any raptor flies past (or even Cuckoo or Wood Pigeon)

  4. 5 John L
    January 27, 2020 at 9:32 am

    I hope the police will be visiting and making enquiries with all shotgun licence holders who live locally to the scene of this crime. Any law abiding person will be disgusted by this further attack on our wildlife, and only too willing to help the police identify the criminal responsible. It’s time the justice system became far more confrontational with these wildlife criminals, and started to use robust investigation and disruption tactics; similar to the methods used against drug dealers or burglars. Wildlife is under enough pressure from habitat loss, climate change and other factors without this unnecessary persecution by evil bullies who have a warped sense of entitlement that they can go out and play “god” with another creatures life. A creature, that in this case is specifically protected by the law. The fact that parliament had to pass specific legislation to protect birds of prey, in addition to the protection afforded by the Wildlife and Countryside Act, should be sufficient justification for the police to be very direct and robust in their investigation tactics when it comes to the unlawful killing of birds of prey. If that makes certain elements of our society feel uncomfortable and feel as though they are being targeted, (and readers of this blog will know exactly who I mean!) then that may well be a good thing. This killing of birds of prey won’t stop as long as there aren’t sufficient protection and deterrent factors; and those responsible remain unpunished for their crimes.

    • 6 Dougie
      January 27, 2020 at 11:18 am

      “It’s time the justice system became far more confrontational with these wildlife criminals, and started to use robust investigation and disruption tactics; similar to the methods used against drug dealers or burglars.”

      The action proposed in the first thirteen words would rightly enjoy massive support in many quarters.
      As I mentioned in a previous post related to another kestrel attrocity 97% of burglaries do not result in prosecution. Drugs offences are off the scale.
      Whatever the criminal justice system is doing in respect of these offences the results are nothing short of abject failure.
      Therefore, we need something done that is an overwhelming improvement. I can only see that happening if Westminster and Holyrood shed the yellow stripe that runs down their backs then, using the means that they have at their disposal, drive all those involved in the criminal justice system into catching and punishing criminals

  5. 7 Simon Tucker
    January 27, 2020 at 10:35 am

    Something has to be done to make lead shot and air weapon pellets identifiable back to a registered owner. There must be some technology that would enable this to happen. Then, the shooting industry should be saddled with the cost of setting up and maintaining a register of ammunition. Obviously, the production and ownership of home made and / or unregistered ammunition would have to be made illegal with sizeable penalties.

    Similarly, licences should be full cost and renewed on an annual basis, with a full breakdown of when used, all ammunition used, so the register can be updated, and unannounced ad hoc inspections of registered gun owners, particularly all those within the area of any wildlife crime. Again, the cost of this should be met by the shooting industry, all costs to be rolled into the gun licence.

  6. 8 Keith Dancey
    January 27, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    “Something has to be done to make lead shot and air weapon pellets identifiable back to a registered owner. There must be some technology that would enable this to happen.”

    There isn’t.

  7. January 27, 2020 at 3:03 pm

    All these recent Kestrel and Buzzard killings just show that concentrating solely on driven grouse shooting isn’t the answer. Of course we should concentrate on the worst offenders but as it stands right now we will probably end up with so many loop holes that these kinds of killings will continue.
    Look at the recent not-guilty verdict after video evidence showed a fox being chased by hounds in a churchyard. A rider on a horse sees a fox and sees he is being filmed at close quarters so attempts to call off the hounds. This appears to be the grounds for his innocence. Not that he was caught in the act and did the only think possible.
    We mustn’t allow any new laws to end up like the fox hunting laws.

    That blog by former police officer Richard Barradale-Smith is really worth reading to get an idea what kind of mindset we are up against. On the blog are other police officers giving supporting corroborative comments BTL
    I don’t think he has finished his whole story as it updated almost daily.
    He was exonerated after a 2 year smear campaign of sexual allegations against him, a married man. At first he had the full support of his immediate superiors and it all got out of hand the higher up it went.

  8. January 27, 2020 at 3:09 pm

    Incidentally Birstwith is in heart of Red Kite country.

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