Press release from RSPB, 21 May 2018:
SEVENTH RED KITE PERSECUTED IN NORTH PENNINES ‘PROBLEM AREA’
The RSPB is appealing for information after a protected red kite was found shot in Country Durham.
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.
[Photos by Robson & Prescott Vets, Morpeth]
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. [See here]
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 HERE.
Well done to the RSPB for putting out this appeal for information. It’s a shame there’s no similar appeal on Durham Constabulary’s website (at least not at the time of writing this blog). Why not?
UPDATE 16.15hrs: We’ve updated the two maps (above) to show the location of Derwent Gorge (as opposed to the nearest town of Shotley Bridge). Derwent Gorge is bang next door to the grouse moor at Muggleswick, and lies within the North Pennines AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).
UPDATE 17.00hrs: Well done to the North Pennines AONB for publishing the following statement on their website:
RED KITE KILLED IN NORTH PENNINES
The report of the killing of a protected red kite in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB) has come as very distressing news.
Chris Woodley-Stewart, Director of the North Pennines AONB Partnership, said: “We are appalled that someone has committed this despicable crime. Someone must know who is involved and we would urge anyone with any information to come forward. There are so few raptors across the Northern uplands because of this illegal persecution – no one should pretend otherwise.
“We met with the police recently to raise awareness of raptor crime and we plan to follow this up. It needs more people to speak out against raptor crime, more resources put into investigation, a commitment to bring prosecutions and stiffer sentences for those found guilty.”
If you have any further information on this incident, please call Durham Police on 101 quoting reference number DHM230420180371 or the confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101. All calls are anonymous.