THE discovery of two more poisoned birds of prey in the county bolsters North Yorkshire's reputation as 'diabolical' for the killing of raptors, experts say.

The RSPB has retrieved a male and female peregrine falcons from a quarry near Tadcaster.

Toxicology reports showed the birds had died after eating bait laced with the highly toxic insecticide bendiocarb.

North Yorkshire Police and the RSPB are appealing for information regarding the illegal poisoning adding to the body count of birds killed this spring.

The police received information from a local birdwatcher about the first dead peregrine on April 7 this year. It was lying on a ledge next to a half-eaten pigeon.

A second dead bird was floating in the water in the quarry.

Guy Shorrock, RSPB Senior Investigations Officer, said: “We believe the pigeon on the ledge was a poisoned bait, laced with the highly toxic substance in order to deliberately kill these two birds. This was a criminal act, at the height of lockdown, resulting not only in the loss of two magnificent birds but any chicks they might have raised.

“North Yorkshire sadly has a diabolical reputation for the illegal shooting, trapping and poisoning of birds of prey. I have been picking up the bodies of raptors for nearly 30 years, and in the current ecological emergency, this cannot continue. Our wildlife needs better protection.”

North Yorkshire Police Inspector Matt Hagen said:

“Poisoning a bird of prey is a crime and it is saddening each time we have another incident reported to us. Every investigation is thoroughly carried out with all lines of enquiry followed to try and find those responsible, but we cannot do this without the public’s help, please be our eyes and ears and report this type of incident to the police.

“I’m urging anyone who has any information about bird of prey persecution to get in touch with the police, someone out there knows who is committing these crimes and we need that information to ensure they are stopped.”

If you have any information relating to this incident, call North Yorkshire Police on 101 and quote the crime reference: 12200057190.

If you find a wild bird of prey which you suspect has been illegally killed, email RSPB Investigations immediately on or fill in the online form:

Alternatively, if you have information about birds of prey being persecuted which you wish to relay in confidence, please call the RSPB’s confidential raptor crime hotline on 0300 999 0101. This number is for bird of prey incidents only.

Please also report suspected poisoning incidents to 0800 321600 (calls are free).