A reward of £10,000 has been offered for any information about three hen harriers which have disappeared from a Lancashire beauty spot.
Three nesting male birds have vanished from the Bowland estate in the past three weeks.
The first of the birds disappeared from its nest three weeks ago from the United Utilities Bowland Estate and a further two males on active nests have not been seen since April 30Lorraine Ellwood
Hen harriers are severely endangered, and Bowland is one of the few places in Britain where they nest.
Two tagged birds, named Hope and Sky, vanished from the moors last September and the RSPB says the latest disappearances have lead to the failure of two nests.
A spokesman for the charity, which is offering the £10,000 reward for any information which leads to a conviction, said: “The first of the birds disappeared from its nest three weeks ago from the United Utilities Bowland Estate and a further two males on active nests have not been seen since April 30.
“In the case of the first nest, a young male arrived almost immediately and took the place of the vanished bird, thereby securing the safety of the eggs. The other two nest were not so fortunate; in the absence of males to provide them with food, the females were forced to abandon their eggs resulting in the failure of both nests.”
As the hen harrier has protected status, killing one is illegal and Lancashire Police is also appealing for information about the birds’ fate.
Lorraine Ellwood, Lancashire Police rural policing and wildlife co-ordinator, said: “We are working very closely with the RSPB, United Utilities and the private estates within Lancashire and were hopeful for a successful breeding season.