The RSPB is appealing for information after a protected red kite was found shot in Country Durham. • Red kite found illegally shot with three pellets in its body • The bird went blind from its injuries and had to be euthanized • The lates
The bird was found alive on 23 April in Derwent Gorge, in the North Pennines AONB, by a member of the public who alerted the group Friends of Red Kites (FoRK). An x-ray by a local vet showed the bird had three shotgun pellets lodged in its head, neck and wing. The bird was cared for but went blind from its injuries and had to be euthanized.
Durham Police visited the area where the bird was found but so far have no leads as to who shot the kite. The RSPB is now appealing to the public for information.
Like all birds of prey, red kites are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which makes it an offence to deliberately kill or injure a wild bird. Those found to have done so could be given an unlimited fine and/or up to six months in jail.
Since 2010, six kites have been poisoned or shot near Derwent Gorge, including a red kite found poisoned in nearby Muggleswick in 2014.
And in February this year, a rare hen harrier disappeared in suspicious circumstances less than an hours’ drive away from this latest incident. The hen harrier, which was wearing a special satellite tag, suddenly and inexplicably stopped transmitting after it flew over a grouse moor near Middleton-in-Teesdale.
Jenny Shelton from the RSPB’s Investigations Unit said: “Spring is a crucial time of year when adult kites will be feeding their young, so the death of this bird could have also affected any family it might have been raising. Red kites were almost completely wiped out of the UK until they were reintroduced in the 1980s. This has been a wonderful success, and most of us enjoy watching these impressive birds. But threats like persecution are preventing them from naturally expanding their range and we clearly have a problem area on our hands here. As mainly scavengers, these birds are no risk to anyone. Blasting this bird from the sky was a thoughtless act.”
Jenny added: “We would like to thank Friends of Red Kites and Robson and Prescott Veterinary Hospital in Morpeth who have been a huge help.”
Allan Withrington of Friends of Red Kites said: “That anyone could even think about shooting one of these beautiful, graceful birds is beyond my comprehension. We are saddened by yet another wildlife crime and look forward to hearing the results of any investigation.”
If you have any information relating to this incident, call Durham Police on 101 quoting reference number: DHM230420180371.
If you find a wild bird which you suspect has been illegally killed, contact RSPB investigations on 01767 680551 or fill in the online form: https://www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/our-positions-and-campaigns/positions/wildbirdslaw/reportform.aspx