Shot Goshawks dumped in Suffolk forest prompts £10k reward

A £10,000 reward for information has been issued after five shot birds of prey were found dumped in a forest.

The young goshawks were discovered dead in King’s Forest near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, on Monday.

Mark Thomas, of the RSPB, described the deaths as “truly shocking”.

The charity has offered a £5,000 reward, which it said was the highest amount ever offered by a conservation charity, with the money matched by campaigners Wild Justice.

The Suffolk Rural, Wildlife and Heritage Policing team at Suffolk Police are calling on the shooting community to “protect its reputation”, with X-rays showing “every bird contained shot”.

Sgt Brian Calver said: “This is a serious wildlife crime against an amazing bird of prey that was once driven to extinction in Britain.

“There is no place for such activity in modern times. Whoever is responsible for this needs to be brought to justice and I’d urge anybody with any information whatsoever to let us know.”

X-ray of shot goshawk

Wildlife officers appealed directly to the shooting community after the birds were X-rayed and found to contain shot

Known as the “phantoms of the forest”, goshawks are similar to sparrowhawks but much larger, with females appearing as big as buzzards.

The secretive birds of prey are protected in the UK under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Mr Thomas, head of investigations at the RSPB, said the dead birds were “fully-grown juveniles”, which they believe hatched only last summer.

He said it was highly unusual to see several goshawks together, apart from close to a nest in the summer months, leading to speculation the dead birds may have been kept in frozen storage.

‘Utterly despicable’

“Clearly they have been shot,” he said, “and the police have every right to suspect a crime has been committed.

“Anyone who values the natural world and abhors those who actively and criminally look to destroy it will feel as outraged as we do about this utterly despicable incident.”

Nesting in forests and large woods, goshawks are most easily seen in late winter and spring, when pairs perform spectacular aerial displays over their woodland territories, according to the Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

The species was close to extinction in the UK in the late 19th Century, before seeing a resurgence in the 1960s.

The RSPB’s annual Birdcrime report for 2021, published in November 2022, revealed 108 confirmed incidents of birds of prey being shot, trapped or poisoned.

However, the charity said, the true number was likely to be far higher.

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