Police are appealing for information after 16 fox cubs were found in a barn near Malton.
North Yorkshire Police, acting on a tip-off, searched an outbuilding on the Birdsall Estate on Sunday morning where they discovered the fox cubs, all aged from about six to eight weeks old.
Officers rescued the cubs and they are now being cared for in an animal sanctuary outside North Yorkshire.
The foxes were being fed and had access to water, but police need further information as to how they got in the barn, why they were there, and who put them there.
PC Jez Walmsley, Wildlife Crime Officer for the Ryedale area, said: “These cubs had been taken out of the wild, and will have come from at least four different litters.
“I am appealing to anyone with any information about these foxes, particularly landowners and the communities of Birdsall, Leavening and Thixendale, to contact me.
“I also want to hear from anyone who is aware of earth being dug out or vixens being killed, as they could have important information that could assist the investigation.”
A man has been arrested in connection with this incident, and has been released on police bail as the investigation continues.
Anyone with information that could assist the investigation should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 2 and ask for Jeremy Walmsley. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would prefer to remain anonymous, information can be passed to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111
Please quote North Yorkshire Police reference number 12150090111.
For more information about wildlife crime, visit the force website at www.northyorkshire.police.uk/wildlifecrime