David Butterworth, Chief Executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said:
“It’s astonishing that 21 Hen Harriers have disappeared across Northern England in 12-months, and sickening to hear that ‘Free’, a Natural England tagged hen harrier has been found dead, headless and missing a leg in an area of moorland in the National Park.
“After so many years of illegal bird of prey persecution in the area you might think we would become more immune to this pathetic criminality. We never should.
“Locally, we have seen some tentatively encouraging results in recent years in terms of successful breeding of hen harriers, with the strong support of some land owners. However, that progress will be rendered utterly worthless if these attacks are allowed to continue.
“It is shameful that we still have individuals among our local communities who take part in these atrocities. I would strongly urge anyone with any information on this incident to come forward. This has to stop”.
Killing birds of prey is illegal. Anyone with concerns about a possible wildlife crime should call 101, and anyone witnessing a suspected wildlife crime should call 999 and ask for the Police.