Buzzard shot in Barnsley sparks investigation

Chris Collett

Friday 10 November 2017

  • The bird had a badly broken wing and had to be put to sleep
  • Illegal targeting of birds of prey is ongoing issue and cause for concern in Yorkshire

A buzzard found illegally shot in a wood near Barnsley has prompted concern by the RSPB and police.

A local birder saw the bird fall out of a tree in Warren Wood, Stainborough on 9 August and reported it to the RSPB’s Investigations unit ( An RSPB investigator recovered the bird and it was taken for an X-ray. The X-ray identified a broken wing and a shotgun pellet lodged in the wing, which was deemed to have caused the break. 

The wound was thought to be several days old and had become infected, so sadly the bird had to be euthanized.

It is illegal to intentionally kill or harm any bird of prey, which are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To kill or injure one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months in jail. 

The incident was reported to the police immediately, and last week the RSPB was informed that the enquiry had concluded with no prosecution. The RSPB is now appealing to the public for information. 

The RSPB’s recent Birdcrime report, published on 1 November 2017, revealed that the illegal shooting, trapping and poisoning of birds of prey is a big problem in Yorkshire. Last year the RSPB received reports of 153 incidents of wild bird crime in the North England Region: this was 33% of the total incidents for the UK and the highest number for any region. 10 of these occurred in South Yorkshire, and many more are suspected to have taken place unseen and undetected. The report also revealed that there were no prosecutions for bird of prey persecution in the whole of 2016. 

David Hunt, RSPB Investigations Officer, recovered the body.

David said: “It is sickening to think that this bird was deliberately shot. Seeing a buzzard soaring high in the sky or picking up worms from a freshly-turned field is part of the joy of a walk in the countryside. However majestic birds like these are, more often than people realise, being intentionally and brutally killed in Yorkshire, and is a cause for local concern. This is not the first time I have been called out to a case like this and unfortunately, it is often very hard to find out who is responsible. If you do have information, please come forward.”

The RSPB is offering a £1,000 reward for information that leads to a successful conviction. If you have any information relating to this incident, call South Yorkshire Police on 101 quoting reference number 617 10082017.

Have you come across evidence of wild bird crime? Let the police and the RSPB know if you notice:

  • Birds of prey that are injured or caught in cage traps (not crows).
  • Dead birds of prey. If lying next to other dead birds/animals these may be poisoned baits, so do not touch.
  • Spring traps set out in the open or on the top of poles.

If you see anything like this, take photos, note the location and immediately contact police on 101 and RSPB Investigations on 01767 680551 or fill in the online form.

Last Updated: Monday 31 May 2021

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