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Operation Owl - How can you help?

Operation Owl is a national initiative to tackle bird of prey persecution. Find out the different ways you can get involved...

Operation Owl might be primarily a policing operation but there are many ways that you can get involved by helping to spread awareness of bird of prey persecution, understanding how to recognise the signs, how to record anything you do find and finally how to report this to the police so that we can investigate.

Recognise – what to look out for?

Poisoned bait
  • Dead birds of prey lying next to dead pigeons, rabbits, pheasants, or other poisoned baits. DO NOT TOUCH.
  • Live birds of prey caught in any trap.
  • Any spring traps set out in the open that are not within a cage tunnel or other enclosed tunnel structure.
  • Any spring traps set out on top of a post – known as ‘pole traps’.

Record – what should you do if you spot signs of bird of prey persecution?

If you come across a dead bird or suspicious object, this could be a wildlife crime scene. Every piece of information may be crucial in prosecuting an offender.

A pole trap
  • Don’t disturb the scene by walking around it unnecessarily and trampling possible evidence.
  • Don’t move anything.
  • Don’t touch any traps, dead birds, or suspected poison baits. Many poisons (e.g. carbuforan) are extremely dangerous even in very small amounts and can be absorbed through the skin.
  • Don’t approach anyone you suspect of committing crime, as they may become violent or aggressive.
  • Do take photographs if you can, or make a sketch as soon as possible.
  • Also take photographs of the surroundings and any landmarks to help officers relocate the crime scene.
  • If photographing an object try to use a coin or notebook for scale – providing it won’t disturb anything.
    A poisoned red kite
  • Note the location as accurately as possible by grid reference, GPS, or what3words.
  • Note a description of any suspect(s) and any vehicle numbers.
  • Note the time and date and what happened.

Report – what should you do with the information you have collected?

If you spot something illegal or suspicious, report it to the police. If the crime or suspected crime is still taking place right now, call 999 immediately. Never approach suspects yourself as they may react violently. If the crime or suspected crime is no longer taking place, please use the national police non-emergency number 101.

A buzzard found shot

When you are connected to the police, ask to speak to a Wildlife Crime Officer and make sure you get an ‘incident report number’.

You can also:

  • Give information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
  • Report suspected pesticides and poisoning incidents to the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) hotline number 0800 321600.
  • Call the RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101.

Could you help by sharing our information leaflets or putting up posters in your local area?

You can download these below.

Please ask permission before putting up posters if the location is not your private address.


POSTER: Poisoning[pdf] POSTER: Illegal traps[pdf] LEAFLET: Recognise, Record and Report[pdf] LEAFLET: What is Op Owl?[pdf]