A GAMEKEEPER from North Yorkshire has been arrested over the alleged illegal use of cage traps.

North Yorkshire Police said a live buzzard was found caught in the trap, which was inside a pheasant pen, in the Pickering area. It was released unharmed, with a second trap containing a live pigeon being found nearby.

A search warrant under the Wildlife and Countryside Act was executed by the force in partnership with Natural England, with a search of the gamekeeper's Pickering home and business being carried out.

PC Stewart Ashton, the investigating officer, said: "Police are receiving a growing amount of intelligence that raptors are being routinely shot, trapped and poisoned by gamekeepers throughout the Ryedale area.

"This is just the latest incident in what appears to be a persistent breaking of the law by a significant number of gamekeepers. This is a hidden crime which usually goes unreported. Sadly, what we are seeing is just the tip of a very big iceberg."

Anybody with information about persecution of wildlife should phone North Yorkshire Police on 101 or e-mail stewart.ashton@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk.