Man took bird of prey into nature reserve
Police have been contacted after a man was reported to have taken a captive bird of prey into a popular nature reserve.
More than 200 species of birds can be spotted in Rainton Meadows, near Houghton, which attracts birdwatchers and walkers from across the region.
Durham Wildlife Trust, which runs the site, contacted the police after receiving two similar reports and said “the individual involved will have undoubtedly created disturbance and additional stress for the birds in the area”.
Northumbria Police have added that "deliberately flying a bird of prey within a nature reserve will have a detrimental effect on any wildlife”.
B i rd s v i s i t i n g R a i nto n Meadows include up to 1,000 greylag geese, a spectacular sight when flying in formation in the area, which travel from as far away as Scandinavia to spend autumn and winter at the reserve because of its wealth of wetlands.
A spokesperson for the trust said: “Rainton Meadows is an important area for a variety of wetland and woodland birds and Durham Wildlife Trust manages the site for the benefit of wildlife and to provide special places for people to get out and experience nature.
"By bringing a bird of prey onto a nature reserve to practise falconry, the individual involved will have undoubtedly created disturbance and additional stress for the birds in the area.
"With nature increasingly under pressure and subject to disturbance from human activity, we felt it necessary to report the incidents in the hope that it would deter those responsible from returning.”
A N o r t h u m b r i a Po l i c e spokesperson said the male reported to have been seen with the bird of prey had still to be identified.
The spokesperson added: “We would expect all visitors to respect the fact that this is a nature reserve and clearly deliberately flying a bird of prey within a nature reserve will have a detrimental effect on any wildlife within the reserve.
"It shows a disregard for the wildlife in the reserve, the wildlife trust and its members. We would encourage members of the public to report any such behaviour to the trust.”
The incidents happened on successive weekends in November.
The trust can be contacted on (0191) 5843112.