Page last updated at 06:19 GMT, Wednesday, 26 August 2009 07:19 UK

County worst for wild birds crime

RSPB Investigator recovers eggs illegally injected with pesticides on the edge of the North York Moors
Attacks on wild birds and their eggs continue to rise according to the RSPB

North Yorkshire is the worst area in the UK for criminal attacks on birds of prey, according to a study by the RSPB.

The charity's annual bird crime report revealed that it received reports of 24 incidents in the county in 2008 and 14 in the rest of Yorkshire.

These included illegal shootings, trappings and poisonings and theft of birds and their eggs.

Following its survey, the RSPB is calling on the government to undertake a review of wildlife crime policing.

Nationally, crimes against wild birds remained at near-record highs last year, the RSPB said.

It received 1,206 reports of shooting, poisoning and trapping birds and of the theft of birds and their eggs in 2008.

Incidents in North Yorkshire included the discovery of a poisoned dead buzzard and red kite.

If I stole a packet of sweets, it would be recorded in the Home Office figures - if I shot a golden eagle, it would not
Ian West, RSPB

The charity also said it discovered a buzzard with leg injuries that were consistent with illegal trapping.

Ian West, head of investigations at the RSPB, said: "How many more of our wild birds have to be lost before the authorities start taking these crimes seriously?

"If I stole a packet of sweets, it would be recorded in the Home Office figures. If I shot a golden eagle, it would not."

The organisation said it would like to see attacks on birds of prey included in recorded crime statistics.

Pc Mark Rasbeary, a wildlife crime officer with North Yorkshire Police, said: " We take all forms of wildlife crime with absolute seriousness, in particular the persecution of birds of prey.

"Sadly though, as these figures demonstrate, it continues to occur despite the best efforts of the police and our partner agencies such as the national parks and the RSPB."

He said the force had recently run the first national course on how to best tackle wildlife crime.

It was also planning to train more than 200 rangers and volunteers from the national parks to help protect birds of prey.

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