Red kite shot & critically injured next to grouse moor in North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire Police are appealing for information after the discovery of yet another illegally shot red kite that was found at the weekend.

Press release as follows:

Police are urging members of the public to support them in the fight against red kite persecution, after another bird was found shot last weekend.

On the morning of Sunday 22 May, a walker on Hall Lane, Blubberhouses, found an injured red kite, in distress and unable to fly. They contacted a wildlife charity, and the bird was taken to a specialist avian vet in Harrogate.


Examination revealed the bird had been shot and had a shattered wing. Sadly, its injury was so severe, it had to be euthanised. The shooting may have taken place a few days before the bird was found.

In the last two months, five red kites in North Yorkshire have been shot or died in circumstances that suggest poisoning, as well as three further afield in the region.

Of those eight red kites, five have been shot. One, found near Malton, was rehabilitated and released back to the wild, but the other four were so badly injured they had to be euthanised by a vet. The three suspected poisoned birds are being examined by the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme.

PC Gareth Jones, Wildlife Crime Co-ordinator at North Yorkshire Police, said: “Red kites were persecuted into virtual extinction in the UK, but in recent years they have been re-introduced through breeding programmes at a number of locations nationally. In Yorkshire, they have spread from their release site at Harewood House, and are now breeding over a large area. Red kites are scavengers, and normally eat carrion, their favourite food being rats and rabbits.

“Red kites are magnificent birds than can be regularly seen soaring over our area, bringing pleasure to many people. They are a Schedule 1 bird and as such are afforded special protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. I am personally saddened by the scale of persecution of these birds – it has to stop, and I would ask for anyone who can help this investigation to get in touch.”

Anyone with information that could assist the investigation is asked to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 2 and ask for PC Gareth Jones, or email You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


Well done North Yorks Police for getting this information out so quickly – kite found on Sunday, press release out the following day, including a photograph, and with additional context about other recent red kite deaths to put this crime in to perspective. That’s excellent work.

The injured kite was found at the edge of Nidderdale AONB, just to the east of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. This is driven grouse-shooting country – check out the tell-tale rectangular strips of burnt heather on the map – and it’s also a well-known black spot for the illegal poisoning of red kites. Oh, and satellite-tagged hen harriers also ‘mysteriously’ disappear here.

Over 38,000 people have now signed the petition calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting. Please add your name HERE

Blubberhouses map - Copy

25 thoughts on “Red kite shot & critically injured next to grouse moor in North Yorkshire”

  1. I’m amazed at how predictably bad the grouse criminals are.
    Less than a month ago in reply to a comment from Billy TF that Nidd was 10km from a grouse moor i replied
    ‘True but the first time i saw a Red Kite in that area apart from around Harewood House was at Blubberhouses. Ever seen any Red Kites or any other raptors on Blubberhouses Moor? I haven’t and i used to drive that moor quite often and still do twice a year. Maybe the [Ed: rest of comment deleted – libellous]’
    Wish i could remember what i wrote that libellous.

    1. Today’s “Libelous” is tomorrow’s factual revelation, and that is the truth of it.

      Hey look at that, someone in the comments further down that page you linked to was telling me how unrealistic it was for police to respond within 24 hours and I shouldn’t ask it. Nice to see that, yeah, they can do it within 24 hours. Guess it isn’t so unrealistic after all. See, setting ambitious and demanding goals for the police works. Now lets set them the goal of finding whoever did that and submitting the kind of airtight report to the CPS that is usually sorely lacking. Come on police, you can meet the basic requirements of your job if you put a bit more effort in.

      1. So crypticmirror apparently believes that the release of a police appeal for help, within 24 hours of the discovery of the victim in this case, is down to his/her campaign on this issue. There are a number of factors in play here. In the present case they were resolved speedily – as much by good luck as anything else. Firstly it was fortuitous that the finder of the injured bird phoned the veterinary practice which had, coincidentally, handled all but one of the recently reported kite persecution victims. They immediately phoned Yorkshire Red Kites who contacted the finder, she having remained at the scene.

        The bird was quickly collected. In the meantime, knowing that the bird was to be brought in, the vet had remained on duty after normal Sunday opening hours. The bird arrived there just over an hour after it was first reported. X-rays were taken revealing the extent of its injuries. It went into a coma whilst being examined and was euthanased. Photos of the x-rays and injuries were taken. These, together with a report of what had transpired, were emailed to NY Police later in the day, ready for action by the duty WCO.

        It is unlikely that many future incidents will be capable of being publicised as quickly as this one. Maybe crypticmirror will acknowledge the practical difficulties in assembling the information essential to putting out detailed press releases and stop harping-on about it!

  2. May I suggest a minor, but an important, alteration to your sixth sentence so that it reads “In the last two months, five red kites in North Yorkshire have been found shot or died in circumstances that suggest poisoning ….”. Who can doubt that far more are shot or poisoned than are actually found and reported? The proportion of the countryside in the area open to walkers etc., thus allowing discovery of corpses, must be relatively small. Add to this that the criminals involved will, where possible, try to conceal their crime and one must multiply those 5 dead kites several times to come to a more realistic number of those actually dispatched. Only the terminally obtuse or apologists for criminality can deny the significant role of the shooting fraternity, particularly on grouse moors, in the illegal persecution of raptors.

        1. Yes John the point is worth making, like you i’m quite sure the dead or injured birds that are found is only the tip of the iceberg .

            1. I have to take issue with the comment to the effect that where possible these criminals will attempt to conceal their corpses. Personally, I don’t think they give a f*** whether these corpses are found or not – in North Yorkshire, especially, I get the impression they are sticking two fingers up at us as if to say ‘What are you going to do about it?’ There will be another one next week….

              1. That point had occurred to us too, particularly in relation to the two left wandering around with smashed wings and the one shot whilst on its nest. A further point is that, presumably, these birds have been shot by people with legally held shot-gun certificates – I nearly said ‘legitimately’, but that term would be inappropriate in more than one sense of the word! It’s unfortunate that we don’t have more evidence, which could then be used against them when their shot-gun certificates come up for renewal.

              2. You may well be right I fear, but one can hope that such arrogant hubris may yet prove to be their undoing. Either way, I’m sure that we can agree distinctly more are killed than are found or reported.

  3. Surely all the governments in the UK can now see that driven grouse moors and our treasured wildlife can’t co-exist? Do we want wildlife or driven grouse moors? Seems that the governments of GB want the former. I had expected better, in particular, from Holyrood, but after the horrendous spectacle of Dr Doolittle and her pandering to the SGA, that hope is gone.

  4. As most were shot the perpetrator(s) must have known they were red kites and even less ‘reason’ to kill them than usual very limited in their predation abilities. This shows the utter contempt grouse moors have for birds of prey, the law and public opinion, they’ll just do whatever they want. Time for some form of direct action, protestors lining road to the estate with pictures of the dead birds as shooters arrive, flying red kite shaped kites from public footpaths when shoots are on? As long as it’s legal and safe what about it, aren’t we a bit short on options? The petition is gaining momentum, but other options would compliment it and wouldn’t it be a sign that the grouse moors are in a terminal situation when a regular element of a grouse shoot would be the presence of an anti shoot element as happened with fox hunting. They are getting off with this with virtual impunity even when police are sympathetic what’s the chance of getting evidence and conviction? Time to step up a gear. Any ideas?

    1. That sounds like a good idea, action is needed to stop the criminals that play on our moorland. The farmers around my area use kites to keep pigeons away from their crops, the kites are shaped like Hen Harriers or Red Kites, they swoop and move quite realistically. I’ve been fooled momentarily by some of them.

    2. Right to roam – follow the shooters up to the butts and then walk the moor towards the beaters!!!!!

      1. The right to roam/open access can be withdrawn on certain dates (in England at least) which might make that into trespass,not everyone may be happy to do that.

  5. Seems to be a well organized criminal element targeting these birds in Yorkshire. Hard not to suspect this is being co-ordinated to some extent. Shoots in the national park need to be told that anymore of this and they are out of there

  6. Having had a direct involvement in this case, I can assure you that we are all too well aware that the number of kites we’re finding is likely to be a small fraction of those which have actually been targeted. With vast areas of open countryside in our region, this is a factor which we have, realistically, learned to live with – not that we find it in any way acceptable. A significant number of Yorkshire Red Kite casualties have been discovered by walkers who, as in the latest case, have broken off their walk to come to the aid of a stricken bird. To be factually correct, only one of the five recently shot Yorkshire kites has been found anywhere near a grouse moor. The cases identified appear to be of a random nature, though no doubt a more accurate picture would emerge if we knew the full extent of the apparent onslaught.

  7. if a person is convicted of a criminal offence and they are employed as a game keeper,the estate that employs them should have the shooting banned for five years,this could help in the fight against these types of crimes as the fines are clearly not a deterrent

  8. A law should be passed to stop this awful action! We should cherish and protect our wildlife.

    1. There is already law in place covering what has happened here in the form of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Though I’m not familiar with the detailed law on firearms use, I would imagine that using a firearm to commit an illegal act is an offence under that legislation too.

  9. Appalling. Just seen one floating over the Hog’s Back between Guildford and Aldershot. One of the wonders of the world.

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