Yet another red kite found illegally poisoned in Nidderdale AONB

Press release from RSPB (28 November 2019)

Red Kite poisoned in Nidderdale

North Yorkshire Police and the RSPB are appealing for information after a protected red kite was found poisoned in an area of North Yorkshire with the worst record for the illegal killing of birds of prey in England.

A member of the public found the bird dead under a tree in Blazefield, just outside Pateley Bridge, Nidderdale in March 2019. North Yorkshire Police submitted the bird to be tested for poison, and results show the bird tested positive for the insecticide bendiocarb. This is one of the top five most commonly abused substances involved in raptor poisoning cases. It is also extremely toxic to people and pets.

Killing a bird of prey is illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Anyone found responsible for this bird’s death faces an unlimited fine and/or up to six months in jail. The police are now appealing for information. 

[A dead red kite]

[Blazefield, sandwiched between some of the most notorious wildlife-killing grouse moors in the UK]

Howard Jones, RSPB Investigations Officer, said: “Poison baits deliberately placed out in the open, where anyone could find them, puts people, pets and wildlife in danger. Based on government toxicology data, from 2009 to 2018 the RSPB recorded an astonishing 369 incidents of the illegal use of pesticides to kill or target birds of prey. Bendiocarb, a very toxic insecticide, is something we come across again and again being used for this purpose.”

According to data collated by the RSPB, the Nidderdale area – which is dominated by extensive driven grouse shooting – is the worst black spot for raptor persecution crimes in England, clocking up more incidents in the last seven years than anywhere else.

In September 2019, the Nidderdale AONB published their ‘bird of prey evidence report’ which highlighted the impact of illegal persecution upon the protected landscape’s birds of prey. The report stated that ‘The spread of red kites into the AONB is being restricted by illegal persecution’.

In August 2019, North Yorkshire Police appealed for information after a red kite was found shot and also poisoned in Wath, near Harrogate, within the Nidderdale AONB. This bird contained two pieces of shot, one of which was from an older injury which it had survived, indicating it had been shot on two occasions. But it was also found to contain a cocktail of highly toxic pesticides, and this was deemed the ultimate cause of death.

And in April 2019, a satellite-tagged hen harrier named River was found dead on Nidderdale’s Swinton Estate, following a search by North Yorkshire Police and RSPB Investigations. She too had been illegally shot.

Howard Jones added: “Nidderdale has become a death zone for birds of prey. Our message to the community is this: If you enjoy spending time in the countryside, please be vigilant. Report anything suspicious. If you have information about someone killing birds of prey, please speak out. This is happening on your doorstep, to your wildlife. Let’s make it known that this barbaric, relentless destruction of wildlife is not something North Yorkshire will tolerate.

“Finally, if you are being instructed to kill birds of prey, please do not break the law on someone else’s behalf. Call our confidential hotline on 0300 999 0101.”


Eight months for this appeal for information to emerge? That’s pathetic. Let’s hope there was at least a local appeal for information – a spokesperson from North Yorkshire Police is quoted in this article in today’s Yorkshire Post saying “Despite extensive investigations……” so perhaps this included warnings to the local community that some criminal psychopath had been laying out deadly poisons in the area. Also interesting to note that the Yorkshire Post article says the banned poison Isophenphos was also detected in the kite’s carcass.

Regular readers of this blog will be only too aware of Nidderdale AONB’s reputation as a massive wildlife crime scene. We’ve blogged about it many, many times including the poisoning and shooting of red kiteshen harriersbuzzardsmarsh harriers on Nidderdale grouse moors (as reported by the AONB partnership in September 2019). We’ve also seen how the local community is turning against the criminals in their midst which is hardly surprising when according to the Chair of the Nidderdale AONB these crimes are “starting to have a damaging effect on tourism businesses”. 

[Photo by Ruth Tingay]

Here’s a map we produced a while ago showing the boundary of the Nidderdale AONB (yellow line), illegally killed red kites (red dots), missing satellite-tagged hen harriers (orange stars), shot hen harrier Bowland Betty (red star), shot hen harrier River (red triangle, which we now know should be closer to the red star on the Swinton Estate).

UPDATE 3 December 2019: Poisoned red kite in Nidderdale – two local businesses put up a reward (here)

19 Responses to “Yet another red kite found illegally poisoned in Nidderdale AONB”

  1. 1 Keith Dancey
    November 28, 2019 at 12:07 pm

    This makes my blood boil.

  2. 2 Paul V Irving
    November 28, 2019 at 1:23 pm

    Yet another poisoning incident involving a Red Kite in the AONB. Given that the victim contained Bendiocarb and possibly isophenphos this is not an isolated use of these poisons. They have both been found before along with carbofuran in a number of poison victims in the area, that would suggest at least to me, that it is not a person but persons unknown across a number of estates involved in both Red Grouse and Pheasant shooting. Not that it matters but Red kites are hardly a threat to the interests of these morons but hay ho they do have a hooked beak so according to their outdated Victorian views are to be got rid of despite the law and the damage to the areas reputation. The delay in publicity may be a function of a delay in analysis. I’m surprised that we have not yet had a dog poisoned in the area that at least might galvanise some action if it happened .

    • 3 Pete Seaman
      November 28, 2019 at 9:39 pm

      Like Paul,I’m surprised we have not had a dog poisoned in that area,mind it would have to be a dog belonging to somebody important before any notice was taken. I have been a member and recorder for the Nidderdale Birdwatching club for many years and as our recording area,the AONB, is surrounded by both Grouse moors and Pheasant shoots it is surprising we have any raptors to put in our end of year report. I did once think things were improving,how stupid can I get ? Paul often says what deaths are reported is only the tip of the iceberg so what the heck remains are out there just rotting away ?

  3. 4 Nigel
    November 28, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    One wonders how many murdered Birds of Prey go unfound?

  4. 5 Tony Warburton MBE
    November 28, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    This doesn’t just make my blood boil – it makes me feel physically sick. 8 months since the crime took place and only now the police are pleading for information – their seemingly automatic answer to every such case. They are just taking the micky. I wonder how many times they have received ‘information’ as a result of their pleading. Would some caring officer care to tell us? And how many successful prosecutions have resulted? Nidderdale isn’t just a ‘death zone for birds of prey – it’s a ‘black hole’, and it is a disgrace to call this blighted area an AONB. And given the number of offences which have taken place there, I am curious to know why those so-called ‘extensive investigations’ haven’t resulted in the banning of driven Grouse Shoots in the whole area – and how many unannounced raids did the police carry out on all estates running shoots to check buildings for poisons, illegal traps etc. – especially at the homes of their keepers. And let’s face it, and take a realty check. Until the judiciary and CPS start locking up and giving meaningful fines to owners of the estates where these increasing – yes, increasing, not diminishing – crimes take place, we will never win this battle. And they could start by licencing shoots and removing that licence whenever the first such crime takes place. That will probably never happen until a much loved dog or child dies from messing about with a poisoned bird – as could have happened in a case of poisoned rabbit bait (Mevinphos) being left on the side of a public footpath running through a Pheasant shoot here in Cumbria. We staked out the site and saw the culprit (a gamekeeper) in action on consecutive nights, but needed an ‘official’ witness (i.e.) to be with us to confirm the crime. This was in the 1980’s when we had local bobbies living in our villages (the ones who used to clip your ear if they caught you scrumping apples!) so obviously picked him. He sat out with us on several nights, but strangely the keeper never appeared again! Strange that . Well it was until we discovered our policeman was a member of the shoot!!! Makes you think.

  5. 6 Allan Withrington
    November 28, 2019 at 4:47 pm

    Yes it can, and does , take up to 6 months to obtain post mortem toxicology examination results. Shocking I know but that is the result of the austerity imposed by the friends of poisoners and shooters.

  6. 7 Dougie
    November 28, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    “Killing a bird of prey is illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Anyone found responsible for this bird’s death faces an unlimited fine and/or up to six months in jail. The police are now appealing for information.”

    Spot the typo in the above quote. Perhaps the last sentence should read. “THE POLICE ARE NOW APPALLING”.

    I cannot believe that what we continually see reported is down to inefficiency. It stinks of something utterly rotten.

    If a private fund was set up to pay for an immediate pathologist’s examination/toxicology etc. I expect that suitable expertise (from within or outwith the UK if need be) could be found. However, I have no doubt that obstructions to this would quickly be found to prevent it happening.

    I am of the view that a campaign to alert the public to dangerous poisoners being at large is a worthwhile approach. There is a very limited number of people who care enough about raptors to make a sizeable impact. There is very likely a large part of the population who would worry about poisons being placed where they could kill children and pets.

  7. 8 TaddyOfKentoo
    November 28, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    [Ed: comment deleted. Personal and defamatory comments about police officers aren’t tolerated here]

  8. 9 Stephen James O'Byrne
    November 28, 2019 at 7:40 pm

    Has the Nitterdale FB page reported on this??

  9. 10 Coop
    November 28, 2019 at 7:49 pm

    Sorry for being off topic. This just heard from Nicola Sturgeon on C4 climate debate: They catch fire, occasionally, but we don’t burn peatlands deliberately. I’ve not quoted, because this might not be vebatim.

  10. 12 Urtica
    November 28, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    Excuse my ignorance but why 6 months for a toxicology report? What is the process? Do the police take them to a vet? Then onto an an animal pathologist? Does it need a special lab? How much does it cost? Do RSPB investigation team have skills & facilities to do this? Could they in the future? Could it be privately funded?

    Is there any point asking for information about an incident which happened months ago? What exactly has the police ‘extensive investigation’ involved?

    Not really asking these questions, just thinking out loud :(

    • 13 Chris Dobson
      November 28, 2019 at 9:57 pm

      It’s a handy side-effect of ”austerity”. Less money, less staff & growing delays. Not a conscious conspiracy, but a bonus for the shooters

  11. 14 WTF
    November 28, 2019 at 7:53 pm

    The unsatisfactory delays in these cases will continue for as long as we have the current half-baked system in place. It is my view that these cases should fall within the remit of the NWCU which should be structured and funded in such a way as to ensure uniform urgent action wherever the case may have arisen. Until we have such a dedicated facility – as distinct from something tagged on the end of procedures designed for other purposes – we’ll no doubt have to grin and bear the foibles of the setup which we currently have. I see this as a logical extension of the widely praised NY Police initiative, Operation Owl’, now adopted on a much wider basis. Too much to hope for? I don’t think so. Five years ago I would have thought Operation Owl no more than a highly optimistic pipe-dream and look how far we have come. Maybe this is one for Nick Lyall to look at.

    • 15 Paul V Irving
      November 29, 2019 at 9:45 am

      NWCU are underfunded, Natural England who have funded the WIIS scheme that does the analysis is underfunded. The scheme needs to be properly funded by either central government directly or from another partner that MUST be properly funded. Perhaps then the scheme will run relatively efficiently as it once did. The whole thing is being badly let down by mean spirited government!

  12. 16 TOBornotTOB?
    November 29, 2019 at 7:22 am

    Yet another piece of evidence that the ‘respectable moorland community’ are still at it. Just another nail in the DGS coffin!

  13. November 29, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Who ever owns the estate the bird was found on must be fined. Make it £50,000 to start with. This should get the surrounding land owners taking a greater interest in making sure these birds are left unharmed.

    • 18 WTF
      November 29, 2019 at 6:11 pm

      If only it was that simple. A bird could easily carry a bait from one estate to another before finding a convenient perch on which to eat it. The odds are stacked heavily in favour of the poisoners. They know this and are unlikely to change their ways. They seem totally oblivious to any reputational damage they might do to the areas in which they operate. The only way of stopping it is by getting rid of the ‘sports’ in whose name these crimes are committed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Blog Stats

  • 7,270,733 hits


Our recent blog visitors