A NEW POLICE campaign has been launched to help tackle crimes involving birds of prey.

Operation Owl is a national campaign currently operating in 25 police forces in which the public are being asked to stop the unlawful persecution of birds of prey, such as shooting, trapping or poisoning, and report incidents to their local police force.

The operation is now under way in the Northumbria Police force area, and a launch event was held recently at Kielder Waterside.

Representatives from Northumbria Police, the RSPB and Friends of Red Kites were present and engaged with members of the general public to take action as part of Operation Owl.

Northumbria Police local wildlife officer PC Lee Davison said: “We need to educate people about the risks and consequences of killing birds of prey. It is a criminal offence and the public can help us root out those responsible by sharing information or reporting crimes.

“Birds like peregrines, red kites and hen harriers are deliberately shot, trapped and poisoned in our countryside. The more information available to law enforcement through reporting, the greater chance we have of prosecuting offenders.

“If you notice anything suspicious, like a dead or injured bird of prey or a trap then call officers immediately. Be sure to take photos where possible and remember not to interfere with what could be a potential crime scene.

“Together we can help put an end to the illegal killing of birds of prey.”

Birds of prey are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which makes it an offence to deliberately kill or injure a wild bird.Those found guilty could face a prison sentence of up to six months.