Concern is growing over the number of suspected red kite poisonings in Northern Ireland, following the discovery of a 4th bird last week in Castlewellan, County Down.
The birds were part of a reintroduction project, initiated by the RSPB in 2008 after persecution in the 18th century had caused their extinction. This reintroduction project has so far resulted in a small breeding population and this year it is believed seven pairs managed to successfully raise young. Three of the four birds found dead this year were breeding adults.
What is especially surprising, and shocking, about these deaths is that the RSPB do not yet know whether poisoning has been confirmed. Why not? Because they’re still waiting to receive the toxicology results from the lab…..one of these dates back to early January!
These toxicology results are crucial for understanding what’s going on in Castlewellan – we have been informed that three of the birds were picked up within the same valley – an area of approximately 1km2 – if the birds were poisoned, which seems likely, the team needs to know whether this was as a result of secondary poisoning (e.g. by eating rodents that have been poisoned with rodenticides) or whether the birds were deliberately and directly targeted with illegal poisons (such as Carbofuran). Without this information it is very difficult for the team to address the problem with the appropriate action.
The problem in Northern Ireland is not just limited to County Down - watch out for a press release next week concerning another red kite victim elsewhere in the country…
BBC news article here