A buzzard that was found dead on the North York Moors earlier this year appears to have been killed by poisoning.
Toxicology tests show that the bird, found dead on 29 January, died of suspected chloralose poisoning.
The animal was found in suspicious circumstances by a member of the public who spotted it on top of a dry-stone wall, next to a lay-by on the Kildale to Commondale road near Percy Rigg.
Police believe that it is unlikely that the bird died where it was found and that it appears to have been placed onto the wall deliberately.
No obvious signs of trauma were found on its body and an x-ray revealed no signs of injury.
After it was collected, the bird was sent for toxicology tests, under the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS), whose results identified chloralose poisoning as the likely cause of death.
Sergeant Stuart Grainger, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “North Yorkshire is known for its wonderful countryside, which is home to many species of birds, including protected birds of prey. Sadly, as a county, we have more confirmed incidents of raptor persecution than any other county in England – a situation North Yorkshire Police is absolutely determined to tackle.
“It is saddening that this magnificent bird has been poisoned. I would urge anyone with any information about this incident to contact us on 101, or you can speak with someone in confidence by ringing the RPSB hotline number.”
Jenny Shelton, RSPB Investigations Liaison Officer, said: “Raptor persecution is a serious, ongoing issue which is affecting some of our most incredible birds of prey. Our UK population of buzzards dropped during the 20th century largely due to illegal killing, and it’s alarming that these practices are continuing even today.
"This was a despicable and deliberate act. If you have any information, please speak out.”
Anyone with any information about the circumstances of the buzzard’s death, or why it was placed on the wall, should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, quoting reference number 12180127114.
If you wish to speak in confidence about this matter, or any raptor persecution incident, you can call the RSPB Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 9990101.