Posts Tagged ‘red kite

23
Sep
20

Large police operation investigating raptor persecution near proposed release site for hen harriers

Press release from Wiltshire Police (23 September 2020)

One arrest made after operation into bird of prey persecution in Wiltshire

A teenager has been arrested today following two warrants executed in East Wiltshire.

Led by the Wiltshire Rural Crime Team but supported by local officers, officers from Hampshire Constabulary, South West Forensics, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the National Wildlife Crime Unit, Natural England and the Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, warrants were executed at locations in the Pewsey and Beckhampton areas.

A 19-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of raptor persecution under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Firearms were seized as part of ongoing enquiries, and the carcasses of a number of birds of prey, including red kites and buzzards, were located at the location in Beckhampton.

PC Marc Jackson, Wiltshire Police Rural Crime Team, said: “Following an extensive search of both locations, we have recovered the remains of a number of birds of prey, including red kites and buzzards.

The recovery of these remains presented a number of complex challenges and we are grateful for the support from other agencies.

Our enquiries continue into how these birds were killed and disposed of. If anybody has any information that they think could support our investigation, please contact us on 101.”

Inspector Liz Coles, Tactical Lead for Rural Crime in Wiltshire, said: “Today’s warrant shows that we take all aspects of rural crime seriously and we will proactively work with partners to protect wildlife and our rural communities.

“Last week saw the introduction of the new dedicated rural crime officers to the team, and this is a prime example of how they will help us moving forward.

“We continue to develop more intelligence-led policing in relation to prevention, detecting criminal activity and proactive operations“.

Wiltshire Police are part of the national initiative called Operation Owl. The initiative sets out to raise awareness of raptor persecution, encouraging the public to be vigilant for signs of this criminal activity, and to report suspicious activity to the police.

ENDS

Well now this doesn’t look good for Natural England’s ridiculous project to ‘reintroduce’ hen harriers to southern England, does it? And after all that work they’ve done trying to convince potential donor countries that raptor persecution is no longer an issue in southern England (e.g. see here and here).

[RPUK map showing proximity of Natural England’s ludicrous hen harrier reintroduction site to the area where a large police investigation in to raptor persecution is underway]

21
Aug
20

Local resident puts up £5,000 reward to find Nidderdale poisoner

In April, during lockdown, two dogs became violently ill on a dog walk near Pateley Bridge in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire.

One of them survived but sadly the other one (Molly) did not.

[Molly, photo by Chloe Ambler]

In August, North Yorkshire Police confirmed (here) that Molly had died after ingesting what has widely become known as the ‘Nidderdale Cocktail’ – a lethal combination of four pesticides (Bendiocarb, Chloralose, Isophenphos and Carbofuran) that has been identified in a number of raptor persecution poisoning crimes in the area.

The police investigation has included conducting high profile raids at several Nidderdale addresses, accompanied by poisons experts from Natural England and persecution experts from RSPB (see here). The police have also issued a warning notice (here) for local residents to take extra care, one in a long line of warnings given Nidderdale’s notorious reputation as a red kite poisoning hotspot (see here).

[Photo by Ruth Tingay]

A local resident has now stepped forward to offer a £5,000 reward for information leading to the poisoner(s). Keith Tordoff, who owns the sweet shop in Pateley Bridge, told BBC news:

It affects tourism. It affects business. Everybody’s affected by this stain on the reputation of Nidderdale and we’ve got to get the message across to these people, this has got to stop.”

You might recognise Keith’s name. It’s not the first time he’s put up a reward for information to help catch the raptor killers and he featured in a recent Channel 4 News documentary about raptor persecution on grouse moors in North Yorkshire, where he told the presenter he’d faced a backlash for speaking out, including having eggs thrown at his windows and receiving anonymous threatening letters (here).

Molly’s owner, Chloe Ambler, wants the poisoner(s) to be held to account. She told the BBC:

“[It’s] absolutely devastating. You feel like you’ve been robbed.

I need someone to be held responsible because at the end of the day we’ve lost amazing Molly.

It’s been so awful for us and I don’t see why people should get away with that.”

Howard Jones, an investigations officer at RSPB, said:

It is absolutely dreadful and this underlines what is the completely irresponsible nature of placing poison out into the countryside.

These people are doing it and know it’s illegal but they don’t care.”

TAKE ACTION

If you’re sick to the back teeth of illegal raptor persecution on driven grouse moors, please consider participating in this quick and easy e-action to send a letter to your local Parliamentary representative (MSP/MP/MS) urging action. Launched on Hen Harrier Day by Wild Justice, RSPB and Hen Harrier Action, over 58,000 people have signed up so far.

This means that over 58,000 pre-written letters complaining about illegal raptor persecution and the environmental damage caused by intensive grouse moor management, are winging their way to politicians of all parties across the UK. If you want your local politician to receive one, Please join in HERE

Thank you

05
Aug
20

Another satellite-tagged red kite ‘vanishes’ in North Pennines AONB

RSPB press release (4 August 2020)

Another red kite vanishes in suspicious circumstances in problem area

Two red kites and one hen harrier – one of England’s rarest breeding birds – have vanished suddenly and unexpectedly in the same area of the North Pennines AONB since last October.

The birds, all of which are protected by law, were wearing satellite tags to help experts understand more about their lives after leaving the nest.

The most recent of these, a young red kite named ‘BB’, vanished in the Derwent Gorge in June 2020, triggering a police appeal for information.

BB was fitted with a satellite tag near Gateshead in June 2019 by Friends of Red Kites (FoRK) with NERF support. It has been monitored since by the RSPB.

[Red kite ‘BB’ in the centre. Photo via RSPB]

BB’s tag had been functioning reliably and as expected when it suddenly stopped on 7 June 2020. Police have been conducting enquiries including a search of the area of the bird’s last fix, between Muggleswick and Castleside, where the bird had been present for the previous month, but found no trace of the bird or the tag. BB has not been heard from since.

Two further birds have suffered similar fates. In April 2020, another red kite, KK, which hatched last summer also near Gateshead, suddenly stopped transmitting on a grouse moor near Derwent Reservoir. And in October 2019, a rare hen harrier named Ada vanished after similarly sending her last transmission from a grouse moor, east of Allendale in Northumberland, also within the AONB.

All of these birds were tagged in the summer of 2019 and were under a year old when they disappeared. It is believed the birds may have been illegally killed.

Howard Jones, RSPB Investigations Officer, said: “There is a distinct pattern emerging of satellite-tagged birds of prey vanishing without a trace on or near land managed for driven grouse shooting in this area.

“BB, KK and Ada’s disappearances are categorised as a ‘sudden stop’. These are reliable tags which continue transmitting even after a bird has died. To cut out suddenly like this strongly suggests human interference.”

Birds of prey are legally protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) which makes it an offence to deliberately kill or injure one. Those found to have done so could be given an unlimited fine and/or a prison sentence.

The persecution of raptors including red kites is a national police wildlife crime priority. Red kites, which are mainly scavengers, went extinct in England in the early 1900s largely down to persecution and egg collecting. Reintroduction programmes in recent decades have been a huge success in the UK, yet red kites remain listed as globally-threatened by the IUCN/BirdLife International.

Harold Dobson, spokesman for the Friends of the Red Kites, said: “It is with a combination of sadness, frustration and anger that we have learned of yet another red kite disappearing under suspicious circumstances. Red kites were re-introduced in the Lower Derwent Valley between 2004-2006. They continue to fare well in the valley itself but evidence such as this strongly suggests they are being prevented from naturally expanding their range, at least in part, due to human persecution. Since 2010, seven red kites have been found poisoned or shot near the Derwent Gorge and surrounding Durham moorland. We fear that this may be the tip of the iceberg and that many more persecuted kites are never found.”

Inspector Ed Turner, from Durham Constabulary said: “It is sad that, within a matter of months, I am appealing to the public for information again regarding another red kite that has disappeared without explanation in the same area of the North Pennines. The fate of this bird is not yet clear. Until we can rule out the possibility that a crime has been committed, we will continue to take this matter very seriously.”

Chris Woodley-Stewart, Director of the North Pennines AONB Partnership, said: “I’m immensely disappointed that we’re back here again having to ask for information on missing birds of prey in this part of the AONB. We never jump to conclusions about single satellite-tagged birds going off-line – there could be several reasons for that and we always want to get to the bottom of why it’s happened, where possible – but there’s a pattern here, and this part of the North Pennines has been a problem location for ten years or so now with shot, poisoned and missing birds. Please come forward if you can help locate this bird or know what happened to it.”

ENDS

 

02
Aug
20

Another huge penalty for raptor poisoning offence in Spain

There have been a number of raptor poisoning cases in the news recently, including the illegal killing of a white-tailed eagle found on a grouse moor inside the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland (here), the mass poisoning of 23 buzzards in a field in Co Cork, Ireland (here), the poisoning of four peregrines on Guernsey in the Channel Islands (here), the poisoning of a family’s pet dog, believed to have consumed a poisoned bait intended for birds of prey in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire (here), the poisoning of a buzzard found dead on a grouse moor in the North York Moors National Park (here), the poisoning of a buzzard in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire (here) and the suspected poisoning of numerous raptors in Derbyshire including three peregrines, two buzzards and one kestrel, all pending toxicology results (here). More on some of those suspected cases shortly.

The connecting feature of all these incidents is that, in all probability, the poisoners will evade justice.

[Illegally poisoned sea eagle. Photo by Police Scotland]

It’s incredibly rare to secure a conviction for poisoning birds of prey in the UK, mainly due to the difficulty of securing sufficient evidence to link the crime to the actual individual who laid the bait. For example if the poisoned bait had been laid out on a large game shooting estate there could be numerous suspects (e.g. gamekeepers), who will all give ‘no comment’ interviews to the police, thus making it virtually impossible for the police to determine which one of them should be charged.

And even in a case where three golden eagles were found illegally poisoned on the same grouse moor, and an enormous stash of banned Carbofuran poison was found in the gamekeeper’s locked shed, reportedly to which only he had the key, he still wasn’t charged with killing those eagles, only for possession of the banned poison (see here).

There have been a few successful prosecutions for raptor poisoning over the years, but the subsequent penalties have been so utterly feeble they simply haven’t acted as a suitable deterrent for others (e.g. see here, here and here).

Meanwhile, over in Spain where tackling the illegal killing of birds of prey is taken seriously with, for example, the deployment of specialist poison detection dogs, resulting in massive fines, custodial sentences and extended hunting disqualifications for those convicted of laying poisoned baits (e.g. see here, here, here, here), another poisoner has just been sentenced this week.

According to these articles (here and here), an unnamed farmer has just been convicted of poisoning two red kites in Cabeza de Buey (Badajoz) in 2018 and has been ordered to pay a 20,000 EURO fine (the estimated value of the two red kites). He also received a two-year hunting disqualification.

Compare that response with what we’ve seen in Scotland this last week – an illegally poisoned white-tailed eagle, killed with a banned pesticide, found dead inside a National Park in an area where at least seven eagles have now been either illegally killed or have disappeared in suspicious circumstances.

There was a wholly inadequate response from a junior Environment Minister (here) followed by total silence from the Environment Cabinet Secretary and the First Minister, despite unprecedented public uproar urging action (see here and here).

Interesting, isn’t it?

01
Aug
20

Dog poisoning confirmed in Nidderdale raptor persecution hotspot

In April during lockdown, two pet dogs became ill during a walk in Pateley Bridge in Nidderdale. One of them (Molly) subsequently died and the vet suspected poisoning.

[Molly (left) and Poppy, photo via North Yorkshire Police]

Samples were submitted for toxicology, although analysis was delayed due to Covid19. Meanwhile, North Yorkshire Police issued a warning notice (here) for local residents to take extra care, especially as illegal poisoned baits had been used in the area many times before, killing birds of prey, especially red kites (here).

Just a couple of weeks ago North Yorkshire Police, along with poisons experts from Natural England and persecution experts from RSPB, conducted high profile raids at several Nidderdale addresses as they continue to investigate ongoing poisoning crimes (see here).

The toxicology results confirmed that Molly had died after ingesting what has widely become known as the ‘Nidderdale Cocktail’ – a lethal combination of four pesticides (Bendiocarb, Chloralose, Isophenphos and Carbofuran) that has been identified in a number of raptor persecution poisoning crimes.

It’s interesting to note that this particular ‘cocktail’ isn’t restricted to use in Nidderdale; it has also been used on several estates elsewhere in England and Scotland. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to see whether there was a common link between these various estates, you know, something like a shared agent or perhaps a gamekeeper who’s worked on all the estates?

On Wednesday, North Yorkshire Police issued the following press release seeking more information about the poisoning of Molly:

Police appeal for information after dog dies from suspected pesticide abuse

Properties searched as investigation into poisoning continues

North Yorkshire Police is appealing for information as part of an ongoing investigation into the poisoning of two pet dogs, believed to be as a result of pesticide abuse.

On 23 April 2020, two spaniel dogs fell seriously ill immediately after a walk, with their owner, in the countryside near Pateley Bridge. The dogs were rushed to the vets and whilst one of the two recovered, the second was so severely ill that she did not survive.

The incident was reported to the police and local area searches conducted, as a well as a warning put out to other dog owners. Samples taken from the dog which died were submitted to the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) administered by Natural England and the results showed the presence of four pesticides. The dog had a significant quantity of Bendiocarb in its system, along with smaller quantities of Chloralose, Isofenphos and Carbofuran. The tests concluded that exposure to these pesticides most likely caused this dog’s death and the severe symptoms suffered by the second dog.

The same combination of four poisons have been found to cause the deaths of two red kites and a buzzard in Nidderdale since 2016, with other cases of poisoned birds of prey in the area also involving one or more of the chemicals involved.

North Yorkshire Police Inspector, Matt Hagen, explains:

The fact we have seen this same combination of chemicals, the ‘Nidderdale cocktail’ as it is sometimes known, also cause the death of birds of prey in this same location would indicate that the poisons have been deliberately left in a place where they could be found by wildlife and unfortunately in this case, domestic pets.

Pesticide abuse of any kind will not be tolerated and we are doing everything we can to try and find those responsible.”

Following receipt of the test results and acting on local intelligence North Yorkshire Police conducted searches at a number of properties in the area with assistance from Natural England and the RSPB.  Unfortunately none of these searches resulted in any further evidence as to how these poisons reached the two dogs or who may have been responsible for this suspected pesticide abuse so officers are now appealing for information from the public.

Mark Thomas, Head of Investigations at the RSPB, said:

Nidderdale is surrounded by grouse moors and sadly we know from experience, and from the government’s own data, that there is a strong correlation between raptor persecution and driven grouse shooting. Carbofuran is one of the most commonly-abused substances in the poisoning of birds of prey. It is a highly toxic, banned substance, putting wildlife, pets and people at risk. This is not the first time harmful substances have been found left out in the open and sadly it unlikely to be the last. This reckless and irresponsible behaviour, which had led to the death of a beloved family pet, cannot be allowed to continue.”

Whilst Chloralose is licenced for use in England in a low concentration as a rodenticide, Bendiocarb, Isofenphos and Carbofuran are all banned from use in the UK. None of these chemicals should ever be used in an environment where domestic animals and/or wildlife should come into contact with them.

Anyone misusing or abusing pesticides may be committing a variety of offences. If you come across an object, often an animal carcass, which you believe may be contaminated with a pesticide or other poisons, do not touch it. Take as many photos and details as you can and report this to the police as soon as possible.

Dog owners worried by this incident should take care to keep their dogs on a lead or within sight and under control at all times when taking them for a walk. Dogs should only be walked on public rights of way or other land where the owner has permission to be.

Anyone with any information which could help the police in this investigation should call 101, quoting reference: 12200068444 or if you wish to remain anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

ENDS

The RSPB also published a blog about this case, which includes comments from Molly’s owners (see here).

There’s also good coverage in the Yorkshire Post (here).

11
May
20

North Yorkshire police warn public of potential poisonous baits at Pateley Bridge

North Yorkshire Police are warning the public of potential poisonous baits at Pateley Bridge in Nidderdale following the suspected poisoning of two dogs in April. [August 2020: See update at foot of blog]

The following message was emailed to members of the local community last week:

This suspected poisoning incident was referred to by the Police in a recent Yorkshire Post article about raptor persecution in the area:

Nidderdale residents will be used to receiving these warnings; there have been several in recent years (e.g. see here, here, here, here, here, here, here) as illegal poisonous baits have been used routinely to kill off red kites inside this AONB and the surrounding area (e.g. see here).

Dog walkers are urged to keep their pets under close control and report anything suspicious to the police. DO NOT HANDLE A SUSPECTED POISONOUS BAIT – some of the chemicals used as poison are so dangerously toxic they have been banned from use in the UK.

UPDATE 1 August 2020: Dog poisoning confirmed in Nidderdale raptor persecution hotspot (here)

04
May
20

Birds of prey still being killed despite lockdown

Since lockdown began in March there’s been widespread concern that the illegal persecution of birds of prey would escalate, especially on grouse moors (e.g. see here) where fewer people are around to witness the crimes and/or the aftermath.

The UK’s grouse moors have been the epicentre of raptor persecution crimes for years; Mark Avery astutely described the National Parks that are dominated by grouse moors (e.g. Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors, Peak District, Cairngorms) as “massive wildlife crime scenes” (see here).

But of course, the threat to UK raptors isn’t just restricted to areas managed for driven grouse shooting. These birds are targeted and killed in the lowlands too, and quite often (although not exclusively) on land being managed for pheasant and partridge shooting.

Just two weeks ago a red kite was reported as shot on land managed for pheasant shooting, with another two birds also suspected to have been shot at the same location (see here).

It seems that the conservationists’ concerns were well founded. Despite the country being in the midst of a national crisis, and despite the shooting industry’s claims to have a ‘zero tolerance’ of raptor persecution (see here), the killing continues.

Police Supt Nick Lyall, Chair of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG, the so-called partnership that aims to tackle the illegal killing of raptors) tweeted this yesterday:

Nick singles out North Yorkshire but we’re also aware of a spate of other suspected raptor persecution crimes during lockdown, in a number of other counties across England and Scotland. Most of these have yet to be publicised as police investigations continue but hold on your hats, folks, when they are finally publicised the list is going to be long and damning.

30
Apr
20

Satellite-tagged red kite ‘disappears’ on grouse moor in North Pennines AONB

Press release from RSPB (30 April 2020)

Red kite vanishes in suspicious circumstances

Durham Police, the RSPB, the North Pennines AONB Partnership and Friends of Red Kites are appealing for information following the disappearance of a red kite in County Durham.

The young bird was fitted with a satellite tag at Rowlands Gill, near Gateshead in June 2019 by Friends of Red Kites (FoRK) with NERF support. It has been monitored since by the RSPB.

[Red kite ‘KK’ being fitted with a satellite tag as a nestling. Photo via RSPB]

The bird, nicknamed ‘KK’, toured northern England, making it as far as the Peak District, then returned north and has been faithful to the Derwent Valley region ever since.

KK’s tag had been functioning normally until it suddenly and unexpectedly stopped transmitting. The last fix came from an area of driven grouse moor near the Derwent Reservoir on 17 April. It has not been heard from since.

Emma Marsh, RSPB England Director, said: “If you’ve seen a red kite wheeling high overhead you’ll know that they’re splendid birds. They enrich our landscapes and bring joy to many.

When a tag which has been functioning reliably suddenly cuts out, this gives us immediate cause for suspicion. The additional fact that the tag’s last data fix came from an area dominated by driven grouse shooting rings serious alarm bells.

The connection between driven grouse shooting and the illegal killing of birds of prey has been well documented. Sudden, unexplained disappearances of tagged birds of prey are happening far too often in these landscapes. Satellite tags continue transmitting even after death, so if this bird had died naturally we would expect to be able to recover it.”

Red kites are specially protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) which makes it an offence to deliberately kill or injure this species. Those found to have done so could be given an unlimited fine and/or a prison sentence.

Harold Dobson, spokesman for the Friends of the Red Kites, said: “It’s 15 years since the first red kites were re-introduced in the Lower Derwent Valley. They are faring well in the valley itself and we enjoy watching these impressive, majestic birds of prey.

As mainly scavengers, the red kites are of no threat to anyone. However, we fear that human persecution is preventing them from naturally expanding their range: since 2010, seven red kites have been found poisoned or shot near the Derwent Gorge and surrounding Durham Moorland. We fear that this may be the tip of the iceberg and that many more persecuted kites are never found.”

Inspector Ed Turner, the lead for wildlife and rural crime for Durham Constabulary said: “The fate of this red kite is not yet clear, we are working with the RSPB to establish what has happened since its transmitter unexpectedly stopped on 17 April 2020. Until we can rule out the possibility that a crime has not been committed, then we will be taking this matter very seriously and if anyone has any information please contact the police quoting 22042020-0078.

Chris Woodley-Stewart, Director of the North Pennines AONB Partnership, said: “Though the fate of this bird isn’t certain, the fact that it was carrying two reliable trackers means this looks very like a crime may have been committed. This is an area where a significant number of kites have been shot or poisoned and we’d really appeal to anyone who knows anything that might help shed light on this incident to come forward.”

If you have any information about this incident, please contact the police on 101, quoting the reference number 22042020-0078. Alternatively, if you have information about birds of prey being killed or targeted near you, please call the RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101.

ENDS

22
Apr
20

Red kite found shot dead on land managed for pheasant shooting in Wales

Three red kites have been found dead on land managed for pheasant shooting in Wales.

On Sunday (19 April 2020) two corpses were found by a member of the public and photographed but then ‘disappeared’ before they could be collected. A third corpse was found by TV presenter Iolo Williams and an x-ray confirmed it had been shot.

[The shot red kite found by Iolo Williams]

The RSPB and Dyfed-Powys Police have today issued the following appeal for information:

RED KITES SHOT IN POWYS

Police and the RSPB are appealing for information regarding the shooting of one red kite, and the suspected shooting of two more in Wales.

A protected red kite was found shot dead in Tregynon, near Newtown, Powys on Sunday 19 April 2020. At least two more are suspected to have been illegally killed in the area, which is managed for pheasant shooting.

A local woman found the two dead red kites while out walking with her family on 19 April. She photographed the birds and planned to return the next day.

She posted her photographs on social media, where they came to the attention of wildlife presenter Iolo Williams. The former RSPB employee ventured out that same evening to the location the birds had been seen, but when he arrived the bodies had disappeared. However, he discovered a third bird lying dead on the ground. The body was x-rayed and found to contain three pieces of shot in its chest and each of its wings.

Police officers conducted a patrol of the area but uncovered no leads. They are now appealing to the public for information.

All birds of prey are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To intentionally kill or injure one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months in jail.

Julian Hughes, head of species at RSPB Cymru, said: “Red kites have made a comeback in Wales after a collaborative effort by farmers, conservationists and communities. For most of us, the sight of these glorious birds – recognisable by their long wings and forked red tail – is a source of joy. They should be celebrated, not persecuted“.

Iolo Williams, broadcaster and former RSPB species officer, said: “The red kite is Wales’ national bird and many of us remember it being incredibly rare and confined to mid-Wales. Hundreds of landowners, wardens and volunteers worked incredibly hard for so many decades to ensure the kite population thrived that I am both baffled and disgusted by this horrific incident.”

PC Charlie Jones, of the Dyfed-Powys Rural Crime Team, said: “It is illegal to intentionally harm or kill a red kite, or any other bird of prey, making this an act of criminality. Wales is home to a significant population of breeding red kites and therefore we take any offences against them very seriously, and wish to hear from anyone who has information which may help with our investigation.”

If you have any information relating to this incident, call Dyfed-Powys Police on 101.

If you find a wild bird of prey which you suspect has been illegally killed, email RSPB Investigations on crime@rspb.org.uk or fill in the online form: https://www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/our-positions-and-campaigns/positions/wildbirdslaw/reportform.aspx

ENDS

15
Apr
20

Red kite shot and killed in Leeds

West Yorkshire Police press release (15 April 2020)

[Red kite: photographer unknown]

APPEAL TO PUBLIC AFTER RED KITE SHOT & KILLED IN LEEDS

Police are appealing for information after a protected bird of prey was shot and killed in Leeds.

The red kite was found by a walker on the evening of Friday, April 10, in the Carlton Moor area, close to Leeds Bradford Airport and the High Trees Garden Centre, in Otley Old Road.

He retrieved the dead bird and contacted Yorkshire Red Kites who, with support from the Harewood Estate, arranged for x-rays which showed the presence of at least 12 shotgun pellets.

Officers from Leeds District Wildlife and Rural Crime Team are investigating the incident and would like to hear from anyone who witnessed anything suspicious in the area around the time.

They are also calling on the public to assist their work to combat offences against birds of prey by supporting the national Operation Owl initiative which helps people to recognise and report any suspicious activity and play their part in bringing those responsible for such crimes to justice.

Sergeant Dave Lund, West Yorkshire Police Force Wildlife Officer, said: “People will be understandably appalled that someone has shot and killed one of these majestic birds that are such welcome sight in our skies.

We are investigating this incident and would like to hear from anyone who saw anything unusual in the area or who has any information that could assist in identifying the person responsible.

We need the public to be our eyes and ears in support of our work to tackle wildlife crimes such as this and we would encourage anyone who does pick up on anything in their area to report it so we can take appropriate action alongside our partner agencies.”

Since their reintroduction into Yorkshire, starting in 1999, many kites have been shooting victims. At least 13 are known to have died of their injuries whilst several others either recovered or had been victims of illegal poisoning but had been found to be carrying lead shot from non-fatal shooting incidents.

Doug Simpson, Yorkshire Red Kites Co-ordinator, said “It appears inevitable that we will continue to have a small number of people who persist in flouting the law which protects our wildlife. It once again raises the question of the suitability of some people to be licensed to own guns. This is not the first time that kites have been targeted at their nests – a particularly sickening and cowardly thing to do.

Counting this latest victim, no fewer than 47 Red Kites have been confirmed as victims of illegal persecution since releases began in Yorkshire in 1999. That roughly half of them have been found by people out walking in the countryside shows the importance of everyone keeping their eyes open for anything untoward and reporting it.”

Anyone with information which could relate to this incident is asked to call West Yorkshire Police on 101 quoting crime reference 13200186201 or online via www.westyorkshire.police.uk/101livechat

Anyone wishing to remain anonymous can call the RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101.

ENDS




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