Posted on: 31 Oct 2015
Durham Police and the RSPB are appealing for information following the shooting of two Short-eared Owls in March this year.
Found by a member of the public, the dead owls were pushed into a pothole near Selset Reservoir in Co Durham. They were recovered on 2 March 2015 and sent for a post mortem examination, where it was confirmed that both birds had been shot.
Short-eared Owls are fully protected under The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The maximum sentence for the illegal killing of a wild bird is six months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. The species can frequently be seen hunting in broad daylight as well as in the early evening. They live mainly on a diet of small mammals such as voles, and the main wintering numbers are just beginning to arrive in Britain from Scandinavia.
To attract a mate, the males perform dramatic sky-dancing displays over open moorland, accompanied by wing clapping to alert females of their presence. The breeding range of Britain's Short-eared Owl population has shrunk in recent years, though the reasons for this are not fully understood.