Missing ‘red list’ endangered hen harrier sparks police investigation near Stocksbridge, Sheffield

Police have been called in after an endangered bird went missing from its habitat near Stocksbridge in Sheffield.

Saturday, 26th February 2022, 11:51 am

They have joined animal charities to try to find out what has happened to the missing hen harrier, which has not been seen for two weeks and is on a ‘red list’ of protected species.

There are now concerns for its safety.

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Police and the RSPB are concerned over a rare hen harrier bird near Stocksbridge. PIcture: RSPB

South Yorkshire Police today confirmed a joint wildlife crime investigation had been launched following reports of the missing bird, involving the force’s own officers, the National Wildlife Crime Unit and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

In a statement issued today, South Yorkshire Police said: “On February 23 partners from South Yorkshire Police, the National Wildlife Crime Unit and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) conducted searches in the area following the bird’s disappearance. Sadly the bird was not found.

“Hen harriers are a ‘red list’ species of bird fully protected by the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. The bird was part of a monitoring project by the RSPB and was fitted with a satellite tracking tag in 2021.

“The bird was reported as missing on February 10, 2022.

“Officers and partners are now appealing for information that can assist with their enquiries into the missing bird. Did you witness any suspicious behaviour? Do you have information you think can help?”

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting crime reference number 14/36809/22.

It is not the first time that hen harriers have gone missing on land in or close to Sheffield’s countryside.

In 2018, the RSPB said that a bird called Octavia, which bred from a nest in the Peak District that summer, was one of three such birds to suddenly disappear.

Octavia had also been fitted with sophisticated satellite trackers, which they said normally keep transmitting and are found if the birds die due to natural causes.

At the time, Bob Berzins, who was one of the volunteers who were protecting that Peak District nest, warned that Sheffield residents were being deprived of the opportunity to see what he described as ‘these magnificent sky dancers'.