A SNOW white dove with an air rifle wound to its throat sits in a cage.

In the stack of hutches below it, juvenile hedgehogs too underweight to hibernate are curled up in tight balls.

A dazed-looking badger, rescued from a roadside just hours earlier, rustles in its box.

Various buzzards, each slowly recovering after being shot, poisoned or trapped, sit on perches in a small aviary.

These are just some of the residents convalescing at the Ryedale Wildlife Rehab in Norton, which also happens to be the home of Jean Thorpe.

Jean has dedicated the last few decades to rehabilitating and then releasing Ryedale’s injured wildlife.

Primarily, her charges are those bird of prey species - buzzards, kites, harriers, which are subject to so much persecution in North Yorkshire, but she doesn’t turn any animals away, if there is any chance they will live; though she will not make pets of them.

“It’s not a sanctuary,” she says. “I don’t like the word. I’m not a bunny hugger, I’m not live-at-all-costs. Wildlife either gets released or gets put to sleep. It’s wild. If it can’t live in the wild, it gets put to sleep.”

She is an accredited rescuer and rehabilitator of raptors. In 2016, she had 93 injured birds of prey come in, 51 of which could be saved and released.

Some were illegally shot, others illegally trapped in so-called fenn-traps. She is also currently dealing with a case of poisoning.

“That case was picked up and brought in on Friday,” she said. “It was a buzzard. Head back, eyes rolling. We had to put it to sleep.”

An x-ray showed no breakages or injuries. The bird was passed to a Natural England team to test for poisons.

“If you look on the RSPB’s website, North Yorkshire is the area with the highest bird of prey persecution,” she says.

Britain’s birds of prey are protected by law, but Jean says there is a wilful blindness to their persecution, which is rife. “Sadly, some of these big shooting estates have very little respect for birds of prey.

“We find that they are also very difficult to prosecute. They’re quiet, isolated places. The birds that come in, they’re the tip of the iceberg.”

She gets a fenn-trap out. It’s metal, rusted slightly, the size of a fist. Also called pole traps, they are placed on fence posts. When a bird of prey lands on the post to survey a hunting ground, the trap shuts, breaking the bird’s legs, causing a slow and painful death.

Jean has had buzzards brought in with whole legs missing.

The use of fenn-traps in the open has been illegal for over a hundred years.

In such a role, having a good vet is a must. Jean says the vet she uses - Mark Naguib of Battle Flatts vets in Stamford Bridge - is “spot on”. A specialist in wildlife and exotic animals, she takes animals from raptors to badgers to him to look over. “I’ve got fabulous support for what I do,” she adds.

But she also implores members of the public to report wildlife crime when they see it. “I ask people to look out. See something you don’t like, see something that registers as not right, or you find an injured bird, or you see a trap set - please tell somebody. Me, the RSPB, the police. The wildlife crime officers at Malton are excellent.”

Her own reputation is such that people bring her injured raptors from all over the county. And not just raptors - someone once drove all the way from Leeds with an injured pigeon.

There is a box on her kitchen floor. It has a tawny owl inside it. Jean opens the box and plucks the owl out, gently but assuredly, explaining that it’s an adult female from the Beverley area that was hit by a car.

She is a licensed BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) ringer, and proceeds to clamp a small ID ring onto the owl’s leg. The bird peers round at us, incredibly docile in her hands.

Jean worked at Askham Bryan College for a while as an animal technician, but the little animal hospital she has created has grown more-or-less organically.

The roads in the district are the cause of much of her patients being admitted. “It’s a big killer,” she says, when I ask about the corpse-strewn carnage that is the A64. “Badgers have runs across the road. Ancient walkways for a badger don’t factor in the A64. Nobody tells them not to cross it.

“The amount of dead animals on the A64, deer, badgers, foxes - it’s a horrendous road. Many times I’ve been called out in the night to injured badgers there.”

Jean is a member of the Badger Trust, and is a badger expert. She says she has great affection for these animals, and is withering of the badger cull that has been implemented down south, pointing out the lack of scientific evidence for its implementation, or its efficacy.

Earlier on that morning, someone found a badger by the side of the road, and called Jean. She went out to pick it up, got it into a carrier, and popped it in the boot of her car. She is about to take it to the vet for an x-ray, but gives us a quick peek.

The animal looks bleary but unharmed. “It’s moving its back legs now - that’s a good sign,” she says. She’s hopeful it can be released that very evening.

Her role shows her two sides of humankind, from the lowest - the badger baiters, fox killers and hare coursers - to those who will travel miles with an injured blackbird in order to get help for it.

She is often called on to make hugely difficult decisions, like an occasion when she had to put a male peregrine falcon to sleep after it became apparent that its broken wing would never heal - there was no blood supply to the break, no union of the bones.

“I could fill my aviaries with disabled birds. I could feed them well and they would live OK. But what kind of life is that for a wild bird? I won’t do it. I’m doing it for the animal, I’m not doing it to make me feel good.”

But it’s also a role that brings constant new challenges and the continuous thrill of contact with wild animals - even if they are soon patched up and on their way.

“It’s an exciting life,” she says. “Last week I had a rare gull, a Russian glaucous gull. How many thousands of miles will that bird have done to get to me?”