This shocking footage captures the “inhumane and callous killing” of a rare bird of prey on one of the UK’s most iconic grouse shooting moors owned by the Queen.
Wildlife campaigners have released distressing footage of a rare goshawk being illegally killed after being trapped in a cage.
Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors captured the gruesome scenes after setting up an undercover camera following a tip-off at the Duchy of Lancaster’s Goathland Estate, in North Yorks., in May.
The video shows a masked man releasing the goshawk into a cage trap and then appearing to deliberately kill it, before removing the body in a bag.
Goshawks were persecuted to extinction in the UK in the late 19th century and, despite an improvement in numbers, persecution remains a constant threat to their survival in Northern England.
Three individuals have been interviewed under caution in connection with the incident and have had their gamekeeper license suspended, while police inquiries are still ongoing.
Luke Steele, 30, a spokesman for Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors said the killing “shames Yorkshire” and called for more stringent regulations against the sport.
Luke, from Leeds, West Yorks., said: “The video is disgusting and inhumane, and just shows how deeply ingrained bird of prey persecution is on grouse moors.
“Not even the Queen’s wildlife is safe from criminals illegally destroying it to boost game bird populations for shooting.
“These birds are being decimated, the wildlife and environment is being completely destroyed and left like a wasteland to allow these people to shoot for sport.
“We need to save these animals and save our environment.
“These vile actions are antiquated and Victorian, and I would suggest to these people to get with the times.
“Things have to change. We cannot allow these callous actions to destroy our wildlife in Yorkshire.
“It shames Yorkshire and it’s unacceptable.”
The illegal persecution of birds of prey on moorland managed for grouse shooting continues to be a serious issue more than sixty years after laws were passed making the practice illegal.
Luke added: “Grouse moors continue to be implicated in a salvo of wildlife crimes.
“How many more birds of prey have to suffer and die before the government introduces regulatory reform of grouse moors to end the wave of wildlife crime.
“These are senseless killings and they need to stop.”
Despite the game shooting industry pledging in January to exercise better self-regulation, a number of attacks associated with grouse moors have been reported over the spring and summer by police forces across Northern England.
This includes five dead buzzards – four of which had been shot – discovered hidden in a hole on Bransdale Moor in April.
As well as a poisoned buzzard in Nidderdale in March and a buzzard found shot on Saddleworth Moor in May.
PC Jeremy Walmsley, wildlife crime officer for the force, said in the police’s appeal for information: “The goshawk is one of the most protected species of bird in the UK and it is extremely distressing that an individual would choose to kill any bird of prey.
“I appeal to anybody with information about this horrific crime to get in touch with the police and help us find the person responsible for the death of this magnificent bird.”
He added: “We see far too many incidents of birds of prey killed or injured in North Yorkshire and as a police force we are doing all we can to put a stop to this inhumane and callous crime.”
North Yorkshire has been named by the RSPB as the top spot in the UK for bird of prey persecution – accounting for 10 per cent of all incidents nationally since 2007 – because of the prevalence of wildlife crime on its grouse moors.
Scotland has committed to introducing mandatory licensing of grouse shooting moors within the next five years after facing a similar wave of wildlife crime, although it is anticipated that ministers could move sooner.
Despite the National Wildlife Crime Unit having briefed government and law-enforcement agencies since 2013 that “intelligence continues to indicate a strong association between raptor persecution and grouse moor management” there has been no similar pledge in England or Wales.
Killing a bird of prey is an offence under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.