21
Jun
13

Cryptic press release issued after red kite dies of ‘unnatural causes’

A dead red kiteA press release has gone out this morning appealing for information after a dead red kite was discovered on Royal Deeside. According to the information released (see here), the bird was found in an area of woodland near Aboyne on 6th April 2013. The wing-tagged bird was known to be a three-year-old breeding female, originally from Perthshire, who had successfully raised three offspring in 2012 close to the area where subsequently she was killed.

Bizarrely, the press release does not explain how the kite was killed. Instead it has the following cryptic statement:

After recovery of the carcass, a post mortem was carried out. This revealed that the bird’s death was not by natural causes”.

So what does that mean then? Was she poisoned? Caught in a leg-hold trap? Shot? Caught in a crow trap and clubbed to death?

We’ve seen this sort of press release before, notably in 2010 when the police force formerly known as Northern Constabulary put out an appeal for information after an osprey died from what was described as ‘deliberately inflicted injuries’ (see here). A few days later it was confirmed that the osprey had been shot (see here).

If this kite’s death was the result of a crime, which we presume it was given that she died of ‘unnatural causes’ and the police are appealing for information, then why the hell aren’t we just told straight? What’s the point of dressing it up to make it sound less serious than it is?

And why, yet again, has there been such a long delay between the discovery of the dead bird and the appeal for information? The bird was found on 6th April – the weekend after the Easter bank holiday – that’s over two and a half months ago. Sure, the police will want to conduct their initial investigations and so there may be an understandable delay of a couple of weeks, but there’s absolutely no operational excuse for a delay of nearly three months before it’s made public.

So here we have yet another example of an illegally-persecuted raptor – yet more evidence that the wildlife criminals are continuing to defy the law, safe in the knowledge that they’re virtually untouchable. Where are the promised ‘new measures’ to tackle raptor persecution from our Environment Minister, Paul Wheelhouse? We expected a statement from him this week but so far, nothing. The Scottish parliamentary recess begins next week (29th June until 1st September) – will we hear from him before then? Email: ministerforenvironment@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

Some background info about Scottish red kites:

Following their extinction as a breeding bird in Scotland in 1917, a joint RSPB Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage project was undertaken with the aim of restoring the species to its former range.

Kites were released in four areas of Scotland:

In 1989-1994, 93 birds on the Black Isle;

In 1996-2001, 103 birds in Stirlingshire/Perthshire;

In 2001-05, 104 birds in Dumfries & Galloway;

In 2007-09, 101 birds in Aberdeenshire.

In 2012, there were 214 breeding pairs of red kites in Scotland.

From 1989-2011, a minimum of 75 red kites fell victim to illegal poisoning, with a further seven the victims of illegal shooting, trapping or nest destruction.

UPDATE 13.30hr: It’s been confirmed that this red kite had been shot. Why the bloody hell didn’t they just say that to begin with?


8 Responses to “Cryptic press release issued after red kite dies of ‘unnatural causes’”


  1. 1 Aberdeen Lad
    June 21, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    The kite was killed with a shotgun and picked up in wood on estate boundary. Don’t know why the polis are being so secretive about it. everyone here knows of it.

    • 2 raptorpersecutionscotland
      June 21, 2013 at 12:16 pm

      Thanks, we’d heard similar from another local source earlier this week.

      So, why can’t the police just say the red kite had been shot? Why is that so difficult?

  2. 3 Dougie
    June 21, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    I just cannot comprehend how the police continually turn out this sort of performance. It is of no use at all.
    I wish someone could tempt PC Josh Marshall and Special Constable Phil Sanderson up here. If there are others who put in an effort similar to these two officers then I unreservedly appologise for not mentioning you, but I don’t know who you are or even if you exist.

    [Ed: We’ll be blogging about those particular WCOs in the near future – a first rate team putting the majority to shame].

  3. 4 nirofo
    June 21, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    What I fail to comprehend is why the police can put out an almost immediate public request for information through the various media for all sorts of other crimes but continue to prevaricate over asking for information relating to wildlife crimes, in particular those relating to Raptor persecution on or near the estates. Surely the chief constables are only too aware of or the reason for the lack of enterprise being shown by their officers, maybe someone in the Scottish Government should be asking them why and what they intend to do about putting it right !!!

  4. June 22, 2013 at 7:16 am

    wish people would stop twisting things to blame the police , can we remind ourselves it wasnt the police that shot the bird and im sure they have their reasons why they have worded it as it has been.

    • 7 Dougie
      June 22, 2013 at 10:13 am

      That is incorrect, Fiona. The police are not being blamed for any wildlife crime, but they are (rightly) being criticised for their attempts at investigation and, in particular, why they consistently allow months and months to go by before issuing a press release asking for public help.
      Compare that with the performance of the two officers mentioned in my post 3 above. Their record is one of being quickly off the starting blocks and getting results. If they can do then so can the others.

  5. June 22, 2013 at 9:05 am

    Fiona, I don’t see anyone blaming the police on here. It just seems that when it comes to investigating wildlife crimes around the large estates there appears to be a certain lack of diligence and transparency from the local police, which inevitably raises questions.


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