AN APPEAL has gone out for people to become ‘bird of prey defenders’, to protect the creatures from being killed.

The RSPB wants to encourage people to support its work in protecting birds of prey, as the species’ face more threats to their population numbers.

Several hen harriers have been targeted and killed in Cumbria over recent years, which prompted investigations by the police as they are a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside


Mark Thomas, head of investigations at the RSPB, said: “This is systematic killing aimed at some of our most magnificent and rarest species. Raptor persecution is illegal, immoral and indefensible.

“My team exists to try and end this, and ensure birds of prey can fly freely, without the risk of being brutally trapped, poisoned or shot out of the sky.”

Last year, a young harrier named Blue went missing in the south of the county which led to a joint investigation between Cumbria Wildlife Trust and the RSPB.

His tracking tag had been working perfectly until it just stopped working near Longsleddale.

Before that, brothers Manu and Marc similarly vanished without a trace.

Conservation projects are underway throughout Cumbria to preserve this species.

The RSPB is asking for donations of as little as £3 per month to help it defend hen harriers, red kites and golden eagles.