Police appeal after red kite found shot on Harewood Estate, Yorkshire



Police are appealing for information after a Yorkshire Red Kite was shot in Leeds.

The incident happened on Thursday 10 May when an injured Red Kite was found by two walkers on a footpath just inside the northern boundary of the Harewood Estate.

They took the bird to the estate office, who arranged for it to be cared for by staff at the Harewood Bird Garden. It had suffered serious injuries and was taken by staff to a nearby veterinary practice for treatment.

X-rays revealed that the bird had been shot and a pellet was lodged in its right wing. The bird was put down by staff at the practice, as its injuries were too severe for it to survive and wouldn’t have been able to fly any distance.

It is believed the shooting occurred close to the entry point of the public footpath into the Harewood Estate from the A659, near to the junction with the A61 at the bottom of Harewood Bank.

West Yorkshire Police are appealing for witnesses who were in the area and may have seen anything suspicious; to come forward and contact the police to assist with their investigation.

[Red kite, photographer unknown]

In 2016, at around the same time of the year, six Red Kites were known to have been shot in Yorkshire – two in West Yorkshire and four in North Yorkshire.

In all but one of these cases, the injuries proved fatal. Other instances of kites being targeted by firearms, include one fatally shot at Pateley Bridge in 2017 and several which had been victims of illegal poisoning but which had been found to be carrying lead shot from non-fatal shooting incidents.

Ben Lascelles, Development Manager at Harewood Estate, said: “The Harewood Estate works hard to champion conservation of Red Kites and other native wildlife, and many thousands of people visit us each year to enjoy them. To discover one of these majestic birds has been shot is particularly disappointing and upsetting.”

Howard Jones, RSPB Investigations Officer, said: “Illegal persecution is a real and persistent threat to birds of prey like red kites. They’re a wonderful sight, and the conservation effort to return these birds to our skies has been huge – it is disgraceful that some are spoiling this through their thoughtless and criminal actions.

The RSPB’s new raptor crime hotline on 0300 999 0101 allows whistle-blowers to come forward confidentially in relation to this type of crime and, given the number of illegally kites in Yorkshire, we hope someone will speak up and reveal who is responsible.”

Doug Simpson, Yorkshire Red Kites Co-ordinator, said: “This latest attack on the reintroduced Red Kite population is particularly sickening. A lot of hard work has gone into this programme and for someone to strike right at the heart of it, at the actual release site, is both unbelievable and devastating. It once again raises the question of the suitability of some people to own guns.

No fewer than 43 Red Kites have been confirmed as victims of illegal persecution since releases began in Yorkshire in 1999. That 23 of them have been found by people out in the countryside shows the importance of everyone keeping their eyes open for anything untoward and reporting it.”

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call West Yorkshire Police on 101 quoting crime reference number 13180232956. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous can call the RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101.



11 Responses to “Police appeal after red kite found shot on Harewood Estate, Yorkshire”

  1. 1 Chris T
    May 19, 2018 at 8:56 am

    Well, that’s efficient. Why wait for kites to come to you, when you can drive to a release site!
    I hope they’ve done a thorough search of that part of the estate as you can often get double figure counts along that road.
    I do not understand why certain groups of people hate such a majestic bird, and one which is generally a scavenger and no real threat to any commercial (or other) interest?

  2. May 19, 2018 at 9:12 am

    I hope the speed with which an appeal for information was launched marks a change in attitude by the police. If so it is very welcome since doing so many months later really isn’t good enough.

    • 3 Dylanben
      May 19, 2018 at 9:38 pm

      It’s not a question of attitude. It’s a matter of knowing what the cause of death is. It’s easier to get a quick press release out in a shooting case, whereas poisoning takes months to determine.

      • 4 crypticmirror
        May 21, 2018 at 12:48 am

        You don’t have to know the full specifics, just that a bird was found dead in suspicious circumstances on such and such a date and people with information are asked to come forward. And lets be honest here, any dead bird of prey is suspicious right now. Sure, some statements might turn out to be useless, but if they do happen to corroborate the later test results then the information is already preserved and not lost to fading memory. A cop who cared can then look at test results and go back to witness statements and match those to the results.

  3. May 19, 2018 at 9:18 am

    Quite staggering that this could happen in such a comparatively busy, populated area within 1km of a police station (if still manned). Surely the police must know who did it although that of course doesn’t mean they can get a conviction. I can’t imagine this will go down well with the locals. I was watching bird here just 2 months ago and many others will have a personal connection to these birds.
    The licensing of ALL shooting just came one step closer.

  4. 7 Alan L Chambers
    May 19, 2018 at 9:20 am

    This is personal – I’ve seen the bird in this area many times. If the shooter isn’t identified perhaps they should withdraw gun licences from everyone in the area.

  5. 8 Fight for Fairness
    May 19, 2018 at 9:27 am

    I would suspect that the poisonings, illegal though they are, were not aimed at Red Kites, but were a bi-catch of baits set to kill foxes and maybe buzzards, which may be more of a perceived “threat” to shooting incidents. Excuse the speculation, but the fact that this bird was injured by one “pellet” would seem to indicate it may have been shot by a air rifle or pistol not a shotgun. Although recent changes in the law strengthened control over air weapons, especially the way they can be purchased and sold, it is still legal to own and shoot (with certain restrictions) air weapons without a licence.

    • May 19, 2018 at 2:09 pm

      The text says “serious injuries” rather than “a serious injury” indicating to me that there was probably more than one injury and so probably more than one pellet was involved. They would know whether it was airgun or shotgun by the pellet found in the wing. I think it’s probably safe to assume shotgun (being the tool most often used by these criminals), otherwise airgun would probably have been mentioned.

  6. 10 Fight for Fairness
    May 19, 2018 at 9:28 am

    … sorry, please read “shooting interests”, not incidents.

  7. 11 Alauda
    May 19, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    It would be interesting to know whether it was an airgun pellet or a shotgun pellet. I’d wager on the former. The harewood area has always suffered from idiots coming out of Leeds and abusing the wildlife.

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