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Police appeal after red kites illegally poisoned in the Chilterns

Last modified: 09 May 2012

Red kite in flight

Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Police are appealing for information following the illegal poisoning of two rare red kites less than a mile apart in the Chilterns. The RSPB is offering a reward of £1,000 for information leading to a conviction.

In January 2012, Hertfordshire Police assisted by officers from the RSPB recovered a dead red kite just south of the village of Hexton. The bird had been found by a member of the public out with her young daughter close to a public footpath.

In March, following a second report from the public, officers from the RSPB recovered a second dead red kite hanging in a bush less than a mile away on the Pegsdon Hills Nature Reserve run by the Bedfordshire Wildlife Trust.

Subsequent toxicological tests confirmed both birds had been poisoned with a highly-toxic banned pesticide. It is suspected both birds had been feeding on carrion placed in the countryside and illegally laced with the chemical.

'Every year we get tragic incidents like this. Illegally placing poison in the countryside puts wildlife, domestic animals and potentially people at risk'

On May 2, 2012, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Police, in conjunction with officers from Natural England, the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) and RSPB, undertook a search in the area including a number of outbuildings. A number of samples were taken and will be submitted for further toxicological tests.

Sergeant Jamie Bartlett, the Rural Wildlife and Environmental Crimes Officer for Hertfordshire Police, said: 'We are appealing to anybody who may have more information about the deaths of these birds.

'The use of poison in these circumstances is highly irresponsible and indiscriminate. The pesticide used is highly toxic and the potential for injury to members of the public or their pets could have been high.

'We take matters such as this very seriously and urge people to come forward with any information that could assist us to progress this matter. Working with various partner agencies in this case is proving to be very useful.'

Guy Shorrock, Investigations Officer with the RSPB, added: 'The reintroduction of red kites has been a fantastic success story and the expansion of the population into Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire has allowed more people to see these amazing birds.

'Unfortunately, every year we get tragic incidents like this. Illegally placing poison in the countryside puts wildlife, domestic animals and potentially members of the public at risk. We would urge anyone with information about this or other wildlife crime to contact the police.'

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Sergeant Jamie Bartlett on the non-emergency number 101. Alternatively call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111. You do not have to give your name and you could be entitled to a cash reward.

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