POLICE are appealing for information about a missing, bred in captivity, satellite-tagged hen harrier.

The young male bird was tagged at its release site in the Yorkshire Dales on July 30, as part of a hen harrier brood management scheme.

The bird, which was one of five to be successfully reared and released on moors in the north of the country, had not been named, but is known to the Natural England monitoring team as 183704.

Police say it is known from satellite tag data that the bird had recently spent a few days in the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire. On the morning of September 19 it had spent time near Thirlmere in the Lake District, before passing through the Mallerstang Common area in the afternoon.

At just after 6pm that same evening the last transmission from the tag was received in the Seavy Gutter area of Askrigg Common, but the bird could have flown on for some distance since the last transmission.

Since then no further transmissions have been received from the tag. Natural England field staff have carried out checks with a hand-held scanner and monitored known roost sites, but the bird has not been found.

Police have carried out two searches, the first being an initial search in the area of the last known transmission, and the second being a more extensive search covering several square kilometres, along with local enquiries. There have been no further sightings of the harrier or transmissions from the tag. Farmers, land owners and gamekeepers in the area have given both Natural England and the police full cooperation with the search.

The bird is a juvenile male and will still be brown in colour. The bird was ringed and will bear the BTO ring number EA54306.

Police are keen to locate the bird safe and well, but if it found dead, it will be subject to post mortem to establish if the cause was from natural causes or predation, or if criminal activity was involved.

Of the five original birds, two have gone missing - police in Durham are searching for the other one which last transmitted in the Durham area.

Data from the tags shows that one of the males has travelled close to 1,800 miles since being released, averaging around 55 miles per day. The others have all remained closer to home, with data showing at least two of the birds travelling to Ingleton, Bentham, Horton-in-Ribblesdale and into the Forest of Bowland.

Amanda Anderson, director of the Moorland Association, which is a partner in the brood management scheme trial, said extensive efforts were being made to trace the two that had stopped transmitting.

“Moorland Association members are enthusiastic participants in this scheme and extensive efforts are ongoing to trace the two birds which have stopped transmitting. The areas to search are massive over difficult moorland terrain hunting for a well camouflaged bird the size of a big crow. Whilst it is expected that at least 50 per cent of birds will succumb to natural causes of death in the first six months we very much hope to find the birds alive or at least find them to establish cause of death.”

Anyone with any information about the missing bird should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 and quote reference number 12190177425.