POLICE have warned yobs they could face jail after a barn owl was shot with an air rifle.
The dead bird was discovered by shocked walkers and Peterlee Town Council staff as they took part in a community litter pick at the Helford Road playing fields, Peterlee, close to the edge of Castle Eden Dene.
Barn owls are a protected species and police have warned that the penalty for killing a wild bird can lead to a heavy fine or even six months imprisonment.
Sergeant Ian Dickinson, of Peterlee Police, said: “Anyone caught doing this will be dealt with robustly through the judicial system.”
The bird was discovered on Tuesday, though it is thought it may have been shot around a week earlier.