Three more poisoned red kites

WT J 1 as I foundThe following press release has been issued today by FoRK (Friends of Red Kites) –


Three red kites have been found illegally poisoned in a blow to efforts to re-establish a thriving population across north east England.

One found near a grouse moor died from Carbofuran poisoning despite the use of the chemical being banned in Britain since 2002. The two others were found together and died as a result of poisoning by Aldicarb, a widely-used pesticide which has been implicated in deliberate poisonings elsewhere in Britain.

The bodies of all three were recovered and sent for post-mortem examination after tip-offs from the public.

The three deaths, revealed by Friends of Red Kites (FoRK), the voluntary group set up to protect and monitor the population, brings the region’s total number of known kite casualties from illegal poisoning to ten in recent years.

FoRK has condemned the killings but fears that the known deaths are just the tip of the iceberg and that many more dead birds are never found. It believes that persistent persecution, mainly through illegal poisoned baits, is among factors preventing the birds from spreading from their core Derwent Valley sites.

The bird killed by Carbofuran was found near Edmundbyers, Co Durham. The two others were found at High Spen, Gateshead, and included a wing-tagged female from a nearby breeding site which had produced young for the previous four years.

Previous poisoning involved two kites found dead in Hexhamshire and a breeding pair killed near Whittonstall whose chicks then perished in the nest. Other local kites were found poisoned in Teesdale and Wharfedale, Yorkshire. Another bird, which moved to Scotland, was found poisoned in the Cairngorms. Other kites have been found in suspicious circumstances but have been dead too long for scientific examination.

Allan Withrington, FoRK Kite Welfare Officer, said: “These poisonings are appalling and totally unacceptable. Carbofuran has been illegal in this country for many years but is still apparently the poison of choice of those who illegally put out poisoned baits to target raptors, crows and foxes. 

Leaving poisoned baits in the open is not only illegal but completely indiscriminate as the deaths of many bird and animals, including dogs and cats, has shown over the years.

We will be continuing to do everything possible to expose those responsible and work with the police, farmers, landowners and other conservation organisations to protect the red kites and other species.”

The most recent available figures from the RSPB show that there were 76 confirmed cases of illegal poisoning in Britain in 2013, including 19 from Carbofuran and 5 from Albicarb. Twenty-one red kites were among the victims which also included buzzard, white-tailed eagle, golden eagle and marsh harrier. Raven, magpie, sparrowhawk and even a collared dove also died along with two dogs and two cats.

Britain’s single worst recorded wildlife poisoning incident occurred in April 2014 with red kites being the main victims. 16 kites and six buzzards were found dead near Inverness. Despite a major investigation by Police Scotland and rewards totalling £32,000 being offered no-one has been charged.


There are a number of interesting facets to this press release. Firstly, no dates are given for when these birds were found poisoned. We can’t be certain, but the press release may refer to three poisoned kites that were discovered in Co Durham in 2014: two in November 2014 and one in December 2014, according to government statistics. It’s possible that the three kites mentioned in the above press release were poisoned this year, but the published government stats only cover the first quarter of 2015 (up until March) and no poisoned kites in Co Durham are present in those figures. These days we have to wait more than six months to find out what’s actually been going on more recently so if they were poisoned after March 2015 we might find out about it ‘officially’ sometime after Christmas.

The second interesting point about this press release is it has come from FoRK. Here’s how FoRK describe themselves:

The Friends of Red Kites (FoRK) is a constituted, membership-based, community organisation which was formed by volunteers in 2009 to continue to encourage an active interest in the conservation of the red kite population in Gateshead’s Lower Derwent Valley and to continue to monitor their health & welfare.

FoRK is the successor to the funded Northern Kites Project which was responsible for the re-introduction of 94 young red kites in the core area between 2004 – 2009. In 2006 red kites began to breed in the region for the first time after an absence of 170 years.

Interesting then that a voluntary, community-based organisation has issued this press statement, and not the police and not Natural England. Has FoRK issued this press statement because they’re tired of waiting for action by the authorities? Was there a police follow up? Was there a follow up by Natural England? If these three birds were poisoned in November and December 2014, why haven’t the police or Natural England said anything? Could their (apparent) silence / inaction have anything to do with the localities of the poisoned carcasses? Check out the village of Edmundbyers on a Google Earth map – see all those weird rectangular shapes on the hills surrounding the village? They’re the tell-tale muirburn strips (burnt heather) that indicate that this area is dominated by driven grouse moors.

Say no more.

Petition to ban driven grouse shooting – PLEASE SIGN HERE

Friends of Red Kites (FoRK) website here



14 Responses to “Three more poisoned red kites”

  1. 1 Douglas Malpus
    September 11, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    Another sickening situation!

  2. 2 Anand Prasad
    September 11, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    ‘We can’t be certain, but the press release may refer to three poisoned kites that were discovered in Co Durham in 2014: two in November 2014 and one in December 2014, according to government statistics’
    Although Spen isn’t in Durham (i think it’s in Northumberland). The government statistics could be wrong.

  3. 3 Chris Roberts
    September 11, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    Driven grouse shooting and gamekeepers must all be banned. It is a choice between them or having native wildlife living free in our countryside. I am sick of people in government and others always trying to appease them.

  4. 4 nirofo
    September 11, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    It’s just endless, the senseless killing of our so-called protected birds of prey by these selfish criminal raptor persecutors on the shooting estates just goes on and on, while the police who have obviously been told to do nothing stand by and let it happen. Time to put an end to grouse shooting once and for all, report everything you see that may be related to a wildlife crime no matter how insignificant it seems to the SSPCA, the RSPB and all the media outlets you can think of. Take copious notes and photos and involve witnesses wherever possible, only involve the police if it’s absolutely necessary and the evidence and facts are undeniable, otherwise all the evidence will mysteriously disappear into a black hole and the culprit/s will get away scot free again. Leave the criminal raptor persecutors no wriggle room, lets treat them just the same as they treat our legally protected wildlife.

    The police have proved beyond doubt that they are a waste of space and more of an hindrance when it comes to pursuing and following up on wildlife crime where grouse shooting estates are involved, it’s also quite obvious they are more than likely controlled by the powerful shooting estate owners and will do their bidding. Wheras, on the other hand the SSPCA has shown time and time again that they are the only ones capable who can and will pursue these wildlife persecuting criminals and achieve successful prosecutions. It’s a no brainer why the police don’t want the SSPCA to take the lead !!!

  5. September 11, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    Its about time that we stopped being so reasonable, so accepting of this illegal activity! What’s going on is so wrong the whole ‘sport ‘of shooting wild & feral animals should be banned. As a committee member of The Guild of Taxidermists I can tell you we recognised years ago that illegal activity by some taxidermists was bringing our profession into disrepute and so we stood shoulder to shoulder with the Police, RSPB & RSPCA to get rid of the law breakers. The National Gamekeepers Organisation have a duty to do the same thing NOW.

  6. 6 Mike Cleary.
    September 11, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    We are going back to the dark days of Victorian Britain where all raptors had to be poisoned, trapped or shot for the sake of sport. lets get this outrageous pastime outlawed!

  7. 7 Jimmy
    September 11, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    The driven grouse industry has had decades now to clean up its act – I was slow to call for a complete ban on this type of shooting but I’m coming around to the idea that only a complete ban will halt the engrained criminality within this group

  8. 8 Bimbliing
    September 11, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    I was hugely enthused by the release programme in this area and the enthusiasm from the folk and businesses of Derwentside. If you’ve not seen the buses of the Red Kite Route with their fantastic livery, then try and find a picture somewhere, they really are brilliant. Its all too sadly now beginning to look like the Black Isle Ghetto where the birds can’t expand out from. I was always worried about the proximity of the Durham moors, but High Spen is just bog standard pasture with not much other than piebald horses grazing it. Don’t know what’s going on there!

  9. 9 John Miles
    September 12, 2015 at 8:18 am

    The day time raptors are well covered but what about the owls. Short eared Owl is killed far more times than Hen Harrier and many other raptors put together. Night excursions by keepers have been witnessed by the RSPB just to kill SEO. These birds are not tolerated on shoot days like many others they can damage a drive and have to be removed if a large tax free ‘back hand’ is to be achieved. I have never seen one report on this web site about SEO! Read the annual bird reports for the areas and see how scarce they are! Any one want contribute?

    • 10 George
      September 12, 2015 at 8:35 am

      Well said, John

    • 11 keen birder
      September 12, 2015 at 8:36 pm

      Hi John, yes its true, ive heard of one being fired at on a beaters/keepers day on a Moor.
      Bonny bird a short eared,its a long time since ive had the pleasure of seeing one.
      Heard a well known grouse Moor got 2000 brace in a day recently. Unbeliveable but true, the guns must have be tired of firing, 4000 divided by 8, thats an average of 444.4 birds each, I said well that`s far too many, why, well its absolute slaughter, well he said, theyve got to be killed, if you leave too many they get disease, Well I said, what gets me is, they just cant bear to have any Hen Harriers, Short eared Owls, buzzard,Badger, and other things ravens, stoats, fox, Mountain Hare, what Mountain Hare, oh yes, they are heavily culled,in Scotland they reckon they spread ticks to grouse, so in the end everything is killed,
      4000 divided by 6 hours of shooting is 666.6, divided by 60 is 11.11 birds per minute constantly , it must have been like a battle field. At a ratio of about 1 bird for 3 shots, thats 12000 cartridges fired.
      This is not normal, usually a bag of a fraction of that is shot.
      Heard of a gun recently been so tormented by midges in his butt, he gave up shooting and sat down. This morning everyone would be thoroughly wet, but blown dry in the afternoon.

    • 12 nirofo
      September 13, 2015 at 1:45 am

      The sad fact is John, no raptors or owls of any sort are tolerated on a grouse moor. If you want raptors and owls we need to get rid of the selfish grouse shooting brigade and their criminal wildlife persecuting gamekeepers !!!

  10. 13 Anand Prasad
    September 12, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    More on this here
    and they were according to this ‘found dead at the end of last year’

  11. 14 Blackpool-Birder
    September 19, 2015 at 12:35 am

    How the sick xxxxx can kill such beautiful bird of prey, which take a comparative few game birds to survive on and bring up their young… and then go and slaughter up to 4,000 grouse, or whatever is just beyond belief. I cannot wait to get the right info on a certain family and their organised ‘shoots’ as they certainly will NOT enjoy the xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

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