North Yorkshire Police investigating the persecution of a pair of breeding Marsh Harriers.

The above Video was released by the RSPB.

North Yorkshire Police are investigating an incident in which men disturbed a pair of marsh harriers nesting on moorland north of Denton, near Ilkley, in Wharfedale.

In May 2017 a pair of marsh harriers was discovered nesting on moorland forming part of Middleton and Denton moors near the village of Denton in North Yorkshire.

The site was monitored by RSPB investigators who photographed the nest containing five eggs. The adult birds were observed at the nest.

[airesizeimg src=”” alt=”Marsh Harrier” class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-22908″ ]

A camera was set up to record activity at the nest site. Video images recorded by the camera show that on 17 May at least two individuals, who appeared to be men, wearing dull, brownish green coloured jackets, traditional country caps, and carrying what looked like shotguns and a brown game bag approached the nest site on six occasions between 12.40pm and 9.30pm. The sound of several shots fired in the vicinity of the nest  were recorded, as was the noise of an engine, believed to be a quad bike. One of the men stood over the nest, bent down, and appeared to pick up something from the nest before walking away.

The following day, 18 May, a further visit by a man, similarly attired, along with a green rucksack, was recorded at around 9.40am. This individual stood over the nest, bent down, and appeared to remove something from the nest.

An RSPB investigator checked the site on 19 May and discovered the nest had no eggs in it, with no sign of any debris from damaged eggs.

The people shown on the video at the nest site have not been identified. A number of men have been spoken to by police as part of the investigation.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA) makes it an offence to take, damage, or destroy the nest of any wild bird. Marsh harriers are a scarce species, listed on schedule 1 of the WCA, and have additional protection. It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb birds listed on schedule 1 while they are at, or near, a nest with eggs or young. Marsh harriers are birds of prey and they normally breed in marshes and reed beds. It is unusual to find them breeding in heather on a moor.

PC Bill Hickson, who is investigating the incident, said: “The video evidence provided by the RSPB shows illegal activity around a marsh harrier nest, and the activity shown speaks for itself. The pictures on the video are, unfortunately, too small to produce an image from which any of the individuals shown could be identified.”

Anyone who has any information about the incident or can help identify who was responsible is asked to contact North Yorkshire Police. Telephone 101, choose option 2 and ask for PC 820 Bill Hickson or email


5 comments to North Yorkshire Police investigating the persecution of a pair of breeding Marsh Harriers.

  • Terry Pickford, North West Raptor Group

    Clearly the individuals CARRYING LOADED SHOTGUNS caught on video on that moor had a right to be on this moor, resident gamekeepers?

  • Albert Ross

    I don’t believe that with the electronic enhancement equipment available to the Police service it is not possible to enhance that tape to a quality where the identity of the individuals cannot be ascertained without any doubt.
    So don’t let anybody cover this up by telling you otherwise.
    As Terry says the list of possible suspects is hardly overwhelming.

  • Alan arblaaster

    More proof of why grouse moors need a licence system in place this is just one incident caught on camera how many arnt!

  • Albert Ross

    Follow up. With three clicks on my PC I have produced passable photos from that video. Just imagine what a qualified tecky savvy person with proper gear can do. Probably read the make of the bloody gun and the label on the Barbour jacket. Police say the CCTV in our streets is working well but IF they cannot enhance their images I must doubt the expenditure is value for money. What price a reading of a speeding motorists Reg plate?
    Odd it only seems to be enhanceable when it suits them!!

  • Trapit

    A strange half- hearted attempt, then remove the eggs?,the only things to tie the female to that spot.
    If as has been stated,the birds were still around for a while afterwards possibly the main objective was prevention of breeding.
    An unbelievable thing to do in the middle of the day.
    Yet more bad publicity for Grouse shooting,cleverly released just before the season. Well done lads.

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