Two red kites confirmed poisoned in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire

Red Kite Mali HallsYesterday, North Yorkshire Police put out the following press release:


Police are appealing for information and warning about the dangers of illegal bird of prey poisoning.

Two red kites were found poisoned in the Nidderdale area of North Yorkshire in 2016.

One was found near Pateley Bridge on 12 March 2016. Tests have attributed its death to alphachloralose. Traces of aldicarb and three rodenticides (difenacoum, bromadiolone and brodifacoum) were also identified.

The second was found near Bouthwaite on 18 May 2016. Shockingly, tests have shown the presence of eight different poisons – alphachloralose, aldicarb, bendiocarb, carbofuran and isofenphos, together with three rodenticides.

Officers are appealing for information about the two incidents, and warning members of the public about the dangers of this illegal practice. Hard-hitting posters urging people to report suspected wildlife poisoning are being distributed across the county.

Inspector Jon Grainge, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “The use of poisons in the two Nidderdale cases is particularly shocking. The practice of lacing animal carcasses with poison to kill other wildlife is cruel and illegal. It is also a serious risk to members of the public and their children or pets if they come into contact with them.

If you find a mammal or bird that you believe has been poisoned, please do not touch it, as poisons can transfer through skin contact. Also keep youngsters and pets well away. Make a note of the location, including GPS co-ordinates if possible, and anything else that is around or near the animal, and contact the police immediately”.

Anyone with information about the poisoning of the red kites found in Nidderdale should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, quoting reference number 12160043415, or email


Have a look at this map. The poisoned red kite at Bouthwaite was found just to the north of the Gouthwaite Reservoir, and the poisoned red kite near Pateley Bridge was found just to south. Look at the land use on either side of the reservoir: this is driven grouse shooting country.


Presumably these two poisoned red kites were part of the ten suspicious red kite deaths investigated in North Yorkshire in 2016. Most of those were confirmed shot but there were a number of suspected poisonings too.

It seems strange that North Yorkshire Police is only now appealing for information about two poisoned red kites that were found nine and eleven months ago respectively. The delay may be due to issues at the toxicology lab (it wouldn’t be the first time) and therefore beyond North Yorkshire Police’s control. The delay is certainly at odds with the commendable speed with which North Yorks Police announced some of last year’s shot red kites (e.g. see here – shot kite found on Sunday, press release out by Monday). They were also incredibly quick off the mark to go out and investigate the three illegal pole traps found on the Mossdale Estate grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park last year, and although senior officers ballsed up what should have been a straight forward prosecution, at least they were honest and transparent, admitted the mistake and amended their policies as a result.

The long delay aside, it is very good to see North Yorkshire Police provide detailed information about the type of poisons used in these two crimes (take note, Police Scotland). It’s also very good to see them proactively warning the public of the danger of these highly toxic substances (again, take note Police Scotland), especially as we head towards spring, which is typically the time when illegal raptor persecution really hots up.

North Yorkshire Police have certainly got their work cut out fighting wildlife crime, and particularly raptor persecution. North Yorkshire is consistently rated the worst county in the UK for the number of reported crimes against raptors, and a lot of it takes place in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the neighbouring Yorkshire Dales National Park. We were only talking about this region two days ago in relation to the ongoing persecution of hen harriers.


Photo of red kite by Mali Halls

11 thoughts on “Two red kites confirmed poisoned in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire”

  1. these stunning birds have a right to life and to be sharing our countryside with all of us who love birds of prey. I too wish the worst for the dullards who killed these birds.

  2. Last January I identified some bait which was potentially poisoned and helped to get it submitted for testing under Natural England’s WIIS scheme (wildlife incident investigation scheme). I was told the testing could take several months and it was June before I got the results, which were negative. It seems the delays are even longer in Nidderdale. Given this delay, what is the chance of getting a prosecution here – pretty much zero. If DEFRA is serious about stopping wildlife crime it needs to provide lab testing with results in days not months. I heard the situation is better in Scotland?

    1. Very quick in Scotland – expert testing is done through Government’s Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) lab.

      They also used to produce excellent quarterly reports, although they now appear to have been nobbled and in recent years have introduced a long delay on written output and even then, some data are withheld (presumably because Police Scotland has asked them to keep hush hush). Very disappointing on that score, but no complaints about the speed & efficacy of actual testing.

      1. Yes it is sad that SASA, some years ago now, stopped naming the actual estates/farms where confirmed poison incidents were recovered. As one of the main “suppliers” I always made sure I gave them landowner details/county details as I was well aware these would appear in official annual reports and we hoped would help by shaming those involved – with hindsight, how naive. We [RSPB] worked in close partnership with SASA and the Govt Ag Depts investigators – a real partnership, not some enforced protocol and it worked well. Fast accurate analysis meaning fast accurate follow up on the ground. I am unaware of a single case where details in an annual report, usually produced for obvious reasons many months after an actual incident, compromised or even complicated an investigation…..then in the mid 70s arrived the era of virtual conservation – protocols, centralisation and multi-agency cooperation [ie bureaucracy] but most of all the rise of the landowner/shooting lobby interference at government and justice system levels…the result?..whitewashed reports and shooting lobby spin..and of course, continuing poisoning. Well done.

        1. Dave, how can the situation be reversed to the good old days? Will it ever be good again? I need to know because, like many other concerned people, I despair of the present wildlife crime situation.

  3. Another Red Kite found dead just outside of Pately Bridge – submitted to the appropriate authorities for testing. Suspected poisoning.

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