A "WELL-KNOWN" buzzard, which was beloved by residents, has been found dead.

The bird was found on Monday behind Poulner Junior School in Ringwood by a resident who believes a local person using a "catapult" may be responsible for the killing.

Hampshire police officers are now investigating the incident.

Another Poulner resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said the bird was becoming a permanent fixture in village.

They said: “People would post pictures of it (on the residents’ Facebook page) and when it was in the school field [kids] would stand along the fence and watch it. It’s been quite nice for people to band together. [It]was getting quite used to us.”

“[The death has] been upsetting for quite a few locals.”

The resident who found the bird, who also wished to remain anonymous, said they reported the find to the RSPB but were advised to contact police instead.

A representative from Hampshire Police confirmed they had received the report and said “enquiries into the circumstances of the death remain ongoing”

Under the Wildlife Crime Act 1981 it is an offence to “intentionally kill, injure or take any wild bird.”

There are exemptions to the Act if the killing is done under certain circumstances by “an authorised person” (e.g landowner) or if it can be proven that the act was necessary to preserve public health or prevent the spread of disease.

Police in Dorset are currently investigating two cases of possible “raptor persecution” after several buzzards were found dead in the Ashmere Wood area in April and a number of sick animals (including a buzzard) were brought to an animal centre in Verwood in August.

Hampshire Police said they are not currently working with police in Dorset in their investigation.