POLICE are investigating the death of a goshawk found peppered with shotgun pellets on a remote North Yorkshire moor.

The one-year-old bird of prey was found by a walker on Saturday, February 27, on the North York Moors at Bransdale, near Ryedale.

Jean Thorpe, a raptor rescue rehabilitator, of Ryedale Rehab, was called and ordered an x-ray as she was suspicious of the cause of death.

She said: "North Yorkshire has a terrible reputation for bird of prey cruelty. I’ve had a poisoned peregrine falcon and trapped birds before unfortunately.

"This was a one-year-old female weighing 1,300 grams and it can’t have been mistaken for a rook or a pigeon and it was shot in flight.

"The goshawk was in a beautiful condition and a pellet had gone through one thigh and I think one got into a lung which killed the bird.

"There’s not a lot we can do as there’s not many buildings round there where people may have seen this happen.

"All we can do is ask people to come forward and to pass on any information that they have.

"Anyone who can help should call the RSPB on 01767-680551 or its confidential hot-line on 0845-466-3636."

North Yorkshire Police and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) were called into investigate the death.

A RSPB spokesman said: "The shooting of birds of prey is an extremely serious issue.

"The RSPB has recently submitted a petition to the Government with more than 200,000 signatures on it urging it to take the problem seriously.

"Anyone caught killing birds of prey can be jailed for six months and face a fine of up to £5,000."

RSPB figures show that in North Yorkshire during 2008 there were 24 incidents regarding birds of prey compared with 14 in the rest of Yorkshire.

Anyone killing birds of prey in the county faces a fine and possibly a jail sentence if they are caught and prosecuted.

A police spokesman said: "This type of incident is completely illegal and it damages the countryside that we are all trying to protect.

"Anyone with information on this incident or who saw suspicious activity in the area should call the police on 0845-6060-247 or Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111."