A reward of up to £1,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for shooting a buzzard that was found dead on the Holkham estate, in Norfolk, on 7th August.
“We have given our full co-operation to the police and the RSPB on this matter and will continue to do so. In addition, we have put forward a reward of £500 [to match the RSPB?s £500 reward],” Holkham estate’s director David Horton- Fawkes told Shooting Times magazine.
Buzzards, which are the most common bird of prey in the UK, are protected under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act, and the person responsible for killing the raptor could be fined up to £5,000 and sentenced to a maximum term of 6 months in prison.
A spokesman for Norfolk police said the reward helps to demonstrate to the public that shooters also condemn illegal persecution of birds of prey: ?This is the first time that I have heard of a shooting estate offering a reward. It is uncharted territory and we will be very interested to see how much it helps the case. We are very anxious for anyone with information to contact us.?
According to police, a postmortem of the bird revealed its body contained pellets from a shotgun cartridge. The exact location of where it was shot is unknown, however.
?It could have been shot some distance from where it was found on the estate,? added the police spokesman.
Shooting organisations welcomed the estate?s move to offer a reward. BASC?s head of game keeping, Tom Blades, said: ?BASC, with other sporting organisations, has for many years been involved in the partnership working to tackle wildlife crime. The fact the estate is offering a reward is evidence of how seriously the shooting community takes issues of wildlife crime.?
The Countryside Alliance?s Robert Gray said: ?Sporting estates are well within their rights to offer rewards if they think that is the best way to deal with wildlife crimes. However, many in the Norfolk shooting community will still be smarting from the heavy-handed approach taken by the RSPB on the neighbouring Sandringham estate in the case of the vanishing hen harriers in 2007.?
Mr Gray added: ?We hope this marks a new era of the RSPB and shooting estates working together for the benefit of shooting and wildlife, but I am not holding my breath. It will be back to bashing gamekeepers and shoots when it needs to raise some more money.?
Anyone with information should contact Norfolk police on 0845 456 4567.