A COUPLE have been inspired to paint a mural following the deaths of several birds of prey.

Nicola and Simon Johnson, from Hartoft, near Rosedale, initially created the mural on the side of their old barn in honour of Hen Harrier Day, on August 8.

But after hearing about a recent incident involving the killing of five buzzards, near Bransdale, the couple decided to use it raise awareness for bird persecution.

“Moorland communities are our communities,” said Simon.

“Every raptor persecution incident taints communities like ours, and taints North Yorkshire as a county.

“Before we started the mural, news came out about the trapping and shooting of a common buzzard at Appleton-le-Moors, alongside the killing of a goshawk near Goathland.

“We were so incensed about this happening, almost on our doorstep, that we decided on a big statement.”

The couple, who have lived in the North York Moors for more than 30 years, are both retired primary schools teachers.

Teaching for a combined 70 years, the couple want to educate the public on the harm of birds of prey persecution.

“As teachers we always tried to look beyond any inappropriate behaviour, discover the motivation behind it and to help them figure it out - it’s the same with raptor persecution,” said Nicola.

“What motivates an individual or a group to illegally trap, poison or shoot any raptor? Is it a lack of understanding? Is it greed or for profit?

“It is time for everyone to work together to solve this problem.”