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Operation Owl day of action to raise awareness of raptor persecution

15 May 2020
  • The operation was launched to raise awareness of raptor persecution.

  • Hertfordshire has seen a rise in incidents in recent years.

  • Members of the public are urged to report information to police.

Hertfordshire Constabulary is joining police forces across the country for an ‘Operation Owl’ virtual day of action today (Friday 15 May), to highlight bird of prey persecution.

Launched in February 2018, Operation Owl is a joint initiative by North Yorkshire Police, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA), together with the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks and the Nidderdale AONB.

The initiative set out to raise awareness of raptor persecution, encouraging the public to be vigilant for signs of this criminal activity, and to report suspicious activity to the police.

In June last year, the operation was rolled out nationally and the first awareness weekend was held in September 2019, with 26 police forces taking part across the UK. A second national weekend of action was planned for April 2020 with 36 police forces asking to be involved. Sadly this had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Superintendent Nick Lyall, Chair of the England and Wales Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG) said: “We’ve heard from various police forces across the country that they have seen no let-up in incidents of raptor persecution being reported and some areas have seen a significant rise in the past few weeks which is very worrying.

“Whilst it is not possible to hold a weekend of action at this time, we wanted to use social media and online channels to raise awareness of bird of prey persecution and to take a stand against this unacceptable crime.

“Please share our messages with your networks online and be vigilant for signs of raptor persecution when you are out and about taking your daily exercise. Everyone has a part to play in helping put an end to this relentless persecution.”

PC Jos Bartlett, from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Rural Operational Support Team (ROST), said: “We have seen an increase in this type of crime in Hertfordshire in recent years so it is important to raise awareness of this very serious issue.

“The three vital pieces of information we want to make everyone aware of are ‘Recognise, Record and Report’ – how to recognise bird of prey persecution, how to record it and how to report it. If you notice anything suspicious, like a dead or injured bird of prey, or a suspicious trap, call the police on 101. Take pictures on your phone, and remember please do not interfere with what could be a crime scene or a lawfully placed trap.”

Further information on Operation Owl.

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