Welcome to Operation Owl

Together we will put an end to the illegal persecution of OUR Birds of Prey


The purpose of Operation Owl is to increase public awareness of bird of prey persecution and to seek support in tackling it head on. ​As part of the Operation, police will carry out checks on known persecution hot-spots at random times to disrupt offender activity. Birds like peregrines, red kites and hen harriers are deliberately and relentlessly shot, trapped and poisoned in our countryside. 

This initiative, supported and governed by the National Police Chiefs Council Wildlife Crime & Rural Affairs portfolio, builds on the successful blueprint introduced by North Yorkshire Police, the RSPB and the RSPCA, working together with the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales National Parks in 2017. 


Operation Owl is an ongoing joint initiative currently led by the Chair of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group Superintendent Nick Lyall and the North Yorkshire Police Rural Task Force


The campaign will include a network of volunteers being trained to spot poisoned bait and illegal traps across the UK and the police are also calling on the wider public to be their eyes and ears when out in the countryside.

Photo Credit

Above (Hen Harrier) - RSPB

Below (Red Kite) - Google Images




All birds of prey, otherwise known as raptors, are protected by law. Their illegal killing has been an offence since 1954 however it continues to this day through shooting, trapping, poisoning, nest destruction and disturbance.


Raptor persecution is an offence under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.The illegal persecution occurs for a number of reasons, often linked to the following

  • Egg collectors

  • Game bird management

  • Pigeon fanciers/ racers

  • Irresponsible photographers

By participating in Operation Owl, the public can help to bring those who illegally harm and kill wild birds to justice. It is important that the public have an awareness of bird of prey persecution and know what to look out for when they are out and about in the countryside as part of their work, or whilst enjoying the outdoors.


This website will hopefully give you some insight into bird of prey crime, and show you what to look out for, and if you do see something suspicious, how to report it to the Police.


In particular, the ‘Recognise’ page shows examples of pole traps and poisonings – as well as examples of legally set traps,  and the ‘Report’ page lets you know what information the Police need to be able to find it and deal with it appropriately.


Birds of prey and other wildlife 'belong' to all of us. The illegal killing of birds of prey has no place in our countryside and has to stop.

Through Operation Owl:

  • We carry out checks on known raptor persecution hot-spots at random times to disrupt offender activity

  • Outdoor groups including National Park volunteers, Mountain Rescue teams, walking groups, rural policing teams, and local parish communities, are all shown how to identify the signs of raptor persecution across the countryside and how to report it

  • We raise public awareness of raptor persecution by distributing information at country fairs, tourist venues, vets surgeries, animal marts and local community venues

  • We encourage the public to be our eyes and ears, keeping a look out for dead or injured birds, poisoned bait and pole traps, and report these to the police on 101.

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