SEEING a red kite, a hen harrier or a peregrine falcon in full flight should be a moment that stops you in your tracks.

They are among our most rare and spectacular wildlife – another reason for visitors to come and visit our beautiful county and for us to feel glad we live here.

But that’s not how it is. Now the sight of a bird of prey circling above is just as likely to prompt a quick prayer that they manage to evade those hell-bent on shooting or poisoning them.

One North York Moors National Park visitor assistant, Heather-Louise Devey, tweeted her disgust at the latest Red Kite found dead, possibly shot, in Upper Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales this month, writing: “It’s got to the point now that when I see a beautiful Red Kite in North Yorkshire I struggle to feel excited – I’m overcome with dread.”

North Yorkshire has been named as the worst in the UK for criminal attacks on birds of prey for more than a decade, but still the reports come in of the creatures being found poisoned, shot, trapped, of having nests destroyed or disturbed, or of satellite-tagged birds disappearing. This week has been no different.

But there is definitely a sense that people’s patience is wearing thin.

The county is tired of having some of its most rare and magnificent creatures deliberately wiped out and weary of its shameful mantel as a bird of prey persecution black spot. The Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors should be natural habitats for these creatures and have been the focus of meticulous conservation programmes to reintroduce breeding pairs and increase numbers.

This week the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel heard techniques being used to develop cases were the most advanced used by the police, but prosecutions are virtually non-existent. It prompted calls for the Crown Prosecution Service to revisit how it tackles offenders. But with over-worked prosecutors often facing highly financed defence cases, it looks like another battle that needs to be fought.