Yet another red kite shot & killed in North Yorkshire’s Nidderdale AONB

North Yorkshire Police are appealing for information after the discovery of yet another shot & killed red kite in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The latest in a long line of victims, this red kite was found dead on 25th October 2018 near to Wath.

[X-ray of the shot red kite showing two shotgun pellets. Image from North Yorkshire Police]

[RPUK map showing location of Wath in the Nidderdale AONB]

[RPUK map showing Wath sandwiched between two areas of grouse moor]

Nidderdale AONB is a notorious red kite persecution hotspot with a long history of illegally shot and poisoned red kites (e.g. see here), so much so that last year the Chair of the Nidderdale AONB’s Joint Advisory Committee issued a public statement condemning these killings and warning that it was having a damaging effect on local tourism businesses (see here).

[RPUK map showing the locations of illegally shot or poisoned red kites in the Nidderdale AONB since 2007]

North Yorkshire Police have issued an appeal for information about the latest red kite shooting, and also an appeal for information about a shot buzzard that was found near Selby earlier this month (we blogged about this buzzard a couple of weeks ago, see here).

Appealing for information, Sergeant Kevin Kelly from North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce said “It’s with much frustration, that I again make another witness appeal regarding two rare birds of prey, that we are privileged to have in our skies, being mindlessly and illegally shot.

If you have any information that will assist the investigation, please come forward and contact police via 101 and pass the information to the Force Control Room. Please quote reference 12180210290 for the buzzard investigation and 12180199938 for the red kite investigation.

We have two extremely experienced wildlife crime officers leading these investigations and they will follow up on any tangible enquiries.  I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the members of public for taking the responsibility to report these matters.

The police press statement includes a quote from the Nidderdale Moorland Group: “We have been made aware of this incident and we are fully supporting the Police investigation. An estate owner and moorland group member found the bird and handed it into the police. The Nidderdale Moorland Group is dismayed by this incident and is committed to helping eradicate wildlife crime. We would ask anyone with information to contact the police“.

Of course, it’s not just red kites that are illegally killed in this grouse moor dominated area of North Yorkshire. Nidderdale AONB and the neighbouring eastern side of the Yorkshire Dales National Park also just happens to be an area where satellite-tagged hen harriers ‘disappear’ without trace in highly suspicious circumstances.

[RPUK map showing Nidderdale AONB and the eastern side of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Red dot = Wath. Small red stars = locations of illegally shot or posioned red kites since 2007. Orange stars = satellite-tagged hen harriers that have ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances in recent years (data from Natural England). Large red star = hen harrier Bowland Betty who was found shot dead on a grouse moor in 2012]

There has never been a successful prosecution for any of these crimes.

For how much longer do you think DEFRA ministers Michael Gove MP and Dr Therese Coffey MP will continue to be wilfully blind to this so-bloody-obvious serious organised crime?

For how much longer do you think genuine conservation organisations will sit on ‘partnership’ groups with representatives of the grouse shooting industry and pretend that everyone’s working together to eradicate these crimes, when there are zero consequences for the criminals?

[A dead red kite, photo by Marc Ruddock]

19 thoughts on “Yet another red kite shot & killed in North Yorkshire’s Nidderdale AONB”

  1. It has been reported that a University in Dundee can get fingerprints from dead birds even after rain and exposure. I assume NYP are aware of this, Don’t post it unless it may help.

    1. Unfortunately any handled persecuted birds are highly unlikely to be found. If a criminal has handled the bird it is most likely that the bird will have been hidden or destroy, birds that are found are likely to have been clipped or winged and most evaded the criminals searching for them as a result they will have no evidence on them to identify the individual(s) involved.

  2. I was up in north Nidderdale recently and was pleased to see red kites (possibly the one that has just been shot), kestrels and a buzzard flying about. Good news doesn’t last long in these parts.

    Isn’t it about time that the Police, with their increased resourcing in North Yorkshire, actually caught someone in possession of a gun breaking the law or at least try to revoke a few gun licences?

  3. I know the area well having birded Gouthwaite Reservoir and the surrounding moors since I was 16. There are also 6 moorland Peregrine sites involving 4 territories none of which have reared young since 1994! Another one adjacent to a grouse moor does sometimes rear young but never more than one. I can also recall seeing in the Wath area some years ago an adult Peregrine flying around with a Fenn trap on one leg. Then there are all the Buzzards, Sparrowhawks, harriers( 2 species), Goshawks ( when there were Goshawks locally) and Ravens over the years with “Malta Moult” in that same area. If you include the radio tagged harrier data too there are 18 disappearances in the Nidderdale AONB and Eastern YDNP.
    I will also keep saying this Bowland Betty was not found dead where the star is, she was found dead on Thorney Grain Moor Colsterdale in the Nidderdale AONB at approx. SE1079! I have been told this by those who went to find her.

    Despite all this negativity I have over the years seen 15 species of raptor and 6 species of owl in upper Nidderdale although of course one wonders how many of them survived the local wildlife criminals.

    1. Like you Paul,I’very been haunting this since Adam was a lad. I honestly thought things had gone quiet in this particular quarter how wrong can I be

      1. You know the folk involved as much as I do Pete, it’ll not change without some major changes in owner attitude and the law. They’ve got away with it since Adam was a lad and without one of them being caught and going to jail there is no incentive to stop. I can remember long ago being told by a keeper ” we make the law up here” and it seems nothing has changed in the near 40 years since.
        We all know locally who is responsible for that cluster of dead kites around the A59 at Blubberhouses for example, yet despite their very best efforts including some thorough searches the police have as yet failed to get him in court. Think of all the harrier nest failures, disappeared harriers and birds with Malta moult, poisoned kites around the Lofthouse to Masham road yet the only conviction on that estate is a minor underkeeper for setting a pole trap! The Nidderdale AONB from a wildlife crime point of view is an utter national and regional disgrace and despite some of the things said on its behalf the AONB is still in bed with the moorland owners.

    1. Only probably Jean, there is a great deal of pheasant shooting in the area and of course the campaign against grouse shooting is “driven grouse” only plus a number of local farmers do not like the Red Kites or the resurgence of Buzzards blaming them for song bird and wader declines. However banning driven grouse shooting would be a MAJOR step in the right direction, need a change of government though.

    2. Not quite true Jean, alas. Remember the tactic of sawing off rhino horns in East Africa. The poachers simply retaliated by continuing to kill the animals out of spite. That would be the case here. We won’t stop this sickening repetitive scenario until the CPS starts to jail the moorland landowners on whose land this very obvious pattern takes place on. Did I just see a cow jump over the moon? Last night I watched a (repeated) TV programme about the Cairngorms in which the local gamekeeper was lauded for his ‘care’ of the moorland he worked on – i.e. checking Grouse chicks for ticks, burning the heather to provide young heather for the Red Grouse to eat, and shooting the Red Deer stags (tellingly the stag with the biggest antlers which no doubt ended up on the walls of the clients big house!). Then it showed him and his beaters driving the Grouse towards the line of guns – with no comments from the presenter apart from the money this ‘sport’ brings into the Estate. And there you have the reason for the loss of our birds of prey.

  4. Although it doesnt take a genius to work out what is going on why is the red kite found dead this year at bolton abbey not marked on here? Also it says data supplied by NE in recent years. Very convenient they pick “recent” ones. There is at least one hen harrier that vanished in the same 10km square where the denton moor marsh harriers were interferred with according to NEs FOI response. Therefore this graphic doesnt even show all the known cases and it still looks bad enough. In some countries this would be enough to remove licences and sporting rights.

    1. Hi Richard,

      The dead red kite found at Bolton Abbey wasn’t included because we’re still waiting to hear about the cause of death. An x-ray had revealed a piece of shot in the corpse but it wasn’t known at the time whether that was a fresh injury or an old one that had healed over.

      All the red kites shown on our map were confirmed shot or poisoned.

  5. Tony Warburton summed up my feelings about the programme on BBC4 – Thursday 29 November, “Cairngorms – A Year in the Wild”, was soporific due to the gamekeeper who trod through the hills enjoying his occupation as he would a hobby. He tended his wards, the Grouse, as a sheep farmer tends his lambs, with affection and great care. However, as with bird and animal mentioned, both have a gory end to their lives. The burning of the heather, and the control exercised by the gamekeeper with his hose being fed from a tank on his hill vehicle, just as a Big Cat trainer would manage his fearsome beasts, the flames would “calm” down and “behave”. I had to give up watching his portrayal of Scottish bucolic existence, which underpins so much of the rural economy, by providing numerous little birds to be blasted for dubious pleasure. No mention of the savage and cruel restrain on the other creatures that have a right to exist on the heather hills of Scotland; the Birds of Prey and the Ravens. Also, the harmless Mountain Hare which is facing extinction in some areas due to the annual butchery in case they carry ticks, which may infest the Grouse. The predatory mammals are also banished. The programme did not dwell on the traps, snares and poisons that gamekeepers are instructed to use to wipe out predatory birds and mammals. No mention of the public indignation that a modern day Scotland has a Government that condones such a situation, and a legal system that has been given bromine and possibly in some cases, castrated, to prevent it showing some justifiable rage at being allegedly influenced by powerful people and their stooge politicians, to play low key, when it comes to suitably dealing with the criminal acts of those responsible for killing Birds of Prey.

    Scotland has its own Colossus of Rhodes, in the form of the obstructive Fergus Ewing, who wards off any challenge to the status quo of those involved with the environment and animal welfare. He has been involved in protecting fish farms, slaughter houses, live transport of animals, shooting estates and anything else that he claims are essential for our rural economy. It has to be seen as a massive issue with various parts requiring attention and more humane controls installed. We are no longer subservient forelock touching individuals, respectful of the gentry and the establishment, when it will not move into recognising that we will not tolerate dreadful conditions for people and animals. Climate change will be a challenge to how we have been poorly managing our environment, both marine and terrestrial. The continued killing of Kites and other Birds of Prey reflect a disrespect for this essential movement into developing a programme to protect the farming industry and the protection of biodiversity through many activities involving greater public participation. The public is not going to make exceptions for those who use our landscapes for blood sports. It has now become a desperate situation all over the planet, with rising population and harmful industrial activity, Scotland must show it is capable of spurning those holding progress back, and democratising the ownership of land. The TV programme mentioned showed much the hierarchy lives in a cuckoo land. I hope I am around if a revolution takes place when we chuck out those who want to live in the bad old days, when our people could be cleared off the land, and rich landowners installing themselves as lords of the landscape, and doing as they bloody well pleased. It is time to clear out the Augean Stables, where those who govern us dwell, and who are not being decisive enough on many controversial subjects. Our wildlife is a symbol of how we value Life and its beauty when allowed to exist and not slaughtered.

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