North Yorkshire Police is appealing for information following an incident in which a goshawk became trapped in a cage and then appeared to be killed.
Officers have been examining video footage showing the bird becoming caught in the trap on Howl Dale Moor near Goathland in the North York Moors National Park, in the early hours of 2 May this year.
Shortly afterwards, an individual with their face obscured, can be seen entering the trap and appears to deliberately kill the bird before carrying the body away in a bag.
North Yorkshire Police Wildlife Crime Officer, Jeremy Walmsley, is urging anyone with information to come forward:
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 anyone with information about this horrific crime to get in touch with the police and help us to find the person responsible for the death of this magnificent bird.
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.
A cage trap can be used to catch certain species of birds alive and unharmed. Police say any non-target birds, such as birds of prey, should be released as soon as possible after being caught.
It is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to kill a bird of prey.
Andy Wilson, Chief Executive of the North York Moors National Park Authority said:
We are deeply saddened to hear about this incident. Goshawks were persecuted to extinction in the UK in the late 19th century and, despite an improvement in numbers, persecution and habitat loss remain a constant threat to their survival. Killing or injuring a bird of prey is illegal, cruel and must be prosecuted wherever possible.
Anyone with information relating to the incident is urged to contact the police.