POLICE are appealing for information after a short-eared owl was shot down in Teesdale earlier this year.

A post-mortem on the bird has confirmed the likely cause of its death was being shot with a shot gun.

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The owl was found by the side of the road in May.

PC Lorraine Nelson said: “Persecuting birds of prey is never acceptable and we will always do everything we can to work with partners to act on information received about alleged criminal activity.

“We would encourage anyone with information on this incident to get in touch.”

Jack Ashton-Booth, RSPB Investigations Officer, said: “Short-eared owls are declining nationally as a species.

"Yet they are still widely targeted in our UK uplands: this is the third shot short-eared owl we are aware of in this area in the last six years.

"In 2015 two dead short-eared owls, both of which had been shot, were found in a hole on moorland just over 1km away.

“Each of those birds could have gone on to have three, four or five chicks, had they been allowed to live.

“When I think of the scale of even just one area of moorland, and its array of nooks and crannies… how many more of these stunning birds could have been shot and concealed down holes or buried under peat?

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"It’s impossible to know.

"This illegal killing must stop.

"I urge any of you who may have information regarding individuals targeting these birds to come forward and call them out.”

If you have any information, call 101 and ask to speak to PC Nelson.

Alternatively, call the RSPB confidential hotline on 0300 999 0101.

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