MAPS showing birds of prey persecution across England and Wales are being published to help police focus enforcement efforts on incident hotspots, the Government said.

They show the number of shootings, trappings, poisonings and cases where nests have been destroyed between 2011 and 2015 and will be updated annually, the Environment Department (Defra) said.

North Yorkshire is to be a priority area for focusing action, as the most incidents have occurred there – a total of 39.

This is followed by Norfolk with 17, Cumbria and Derbyshire with 11 each, Lincolnshire with 10, Suffolk with eight and Northumberland with eight.

In the five-year period there have been 262 incidents in England and Wales, including 146 shootings and 66 poisoning cases.

Buzzards were most commonly targeted, in 108 cases, followed by owls, red kites and peregrine falcons, the maps show.

But the data shows just one confirmed case involving hen harriers, whose numbers in England, as a result of persecution, are far below the levels that could be naturally supported in the landscape.

Wildlife minister Therese Coffey said: “Birds of prey are a vital part of our animal landscape, icons of our cultural heritage and key to boosting local economies by attracting visitors to England and Wales.

“These maps highlight hotspots across the country for crimes against these precious birds, enabling the police to crack down with increased enforcement in areas where it’s needed most - building on the valuable work land management, conservation and shooting organisations are already doing to help protect iconic birds of prey.”

The Government said persecution of birds of prey has been identified as a UK wildlife crime priority, and the maps would help boost the fight against those who continue to commit such crimes.

:: The maps were developed by the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group, which includes Defra and the devolved administrations, Natural England, National Wildlife Crime Unit, the police, British Association for Shooting and Conservation, RSPB, Country Land and Business Association, Moorland Association, National Game Keepers’ Organisation, National Parks England, Crown Prosecution Service and the Countryside Alliance.