A BUZZARD which was trapped in North Yorkshire has been safely returned into the wild.

North Yorkshire Police were called to the Ryedale area on March 26, along with members of the RSPCA, who helped free the bird from the trap.

Jean Thorpe from the Ryedale Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre took the bird in and cared for it until it was ready for release, and last week wildlife crime officer PC Jeremy Walmsley – who practised his bird of prey handling skills with Jean – released the buzzard back into the wild.

PC Walmsley said: "Wildlife investigations are a very important part of our work. I encourage any members of the public who have concerns for the welfare of wildlife or information about crimes that may have taken place to contact the police so we can take appropriate action."

North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce and specialist wildlife crime officers work with the RSPCA, RSPB and wildlife rehabilitators to protect the county’s raptors and other wildlife, and an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the buzzard’s injuries is ongoing.

Visitors to the region's countryside have been urged to get involved with Operation Owl – a new police initiative to reduce the number of illegal attacks on birds of prey in the county.

Sergeant Kevin Kelly, of the force’s Rural Taskforce, said: "The weather will soon start to improve and more people will head out to the countryside. If everyone keeps their eyes open for illegal traps and poisoned bait, it will be a massive boost to our surveillance operation.

"This is a real opportunity to reduce the number of wild birds that suffer and die unnecessarily, and send a clear message to offenders that we will not tolerate this crime in our countryside."

Sgt Kelly urged the public not to tamper with a trap, but instead "Note the location, take a photo, and call the police on 101 to report it. Our wildlife officers will take it from there".

Incidents can be reported to North Yorkshire Police on 101, or to the RSPB’s Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 9990101.