Last Thursday, Gloucestershire Police tweeted about a red kite that had been found injured on 12th March 2021, ‘believed to have been shot close to Salperton Village’ in the Cotswolds.
Judging by the accompanying x-ray, the kite had suffered a catastrophic wing injury and it seems unlikely it would have been able to fly far from where it had been shot (see here).
Gareth Jones from the Glos Raptor Study Group later tweeted that the kite had been found on the Salperton Estate and that it was ‘not the first incident found on this estate either‘. Gareth gave a site reference (What3Words) of dictation.dangerously.enacted which is located close to All Saints Church on the Salperton Park Estate:
The Salperton Park Estate in the Cotswolds is reported to host ‘one of the country’s most celebrated partridge shoots‘ over 4,000 acres, and is listed on Mark Osborne’s William Powell sporting agency website as being one his ‘hand-picked estates’ (see here).
Today there is a media article in the Wiltshire & Gloucestershire Standard about the shot red kite, including a quote from the RSPB, but once again, the Salperton Park Estate is not mentioned as being the location where this injured red kite was reportedly discovered:
The article just states that the shot red kite was found ‘close to the village of Salperton’.
Was the red kite found on the Salperton Park Estate and if so, why is there such reluctance to state this fact? If it wasn’t found injured on the Salperton Park Estate then the police should be clarifying where it was picked up.
As the police are appealing for witnesses, surely it’d make sense to give as much locational detail as possible?
In addition, if local raptor worker Gareth Jones is to be believed (and I have no reason not to), if this is not the first incident reported from this estate then all the more reason to publicise it. It doesn’t automatically mean that an estate employee is responsible for the crimes because there are a significant number of tenants renting properties at Salperton Park – how many of those might have access to a shotgun would be for the police to determine as part of their investigation, especially if this location is turning in to a persecution hotspot.
UPDATE 20th April 2021: Further news on this on today’s Gloucestershire Live website (here). Article reproduced below in case it vanishes:
Bird of prey shot in Cotswolds village dies as police condemn ‘unacceptable crime’
A bird of prey that was shot in a Gloucestershire village has been euthanised as police condemn the “unacceptable crime”.
On Friday March 12, a member of the public discovered the Red Kite by the roadside in the Cotswold village of Salperton.
The bird was alive but unable to fly due to its severe injuries – it has suffered multiple bone fractures.
It was taken to the Vale Wildlife Hospital and, following an X-ray, it was discovered the bird had been hit with a shotgun.
It is believed it had been shot close to the village, as it would have been unable to fly or glide with its injuries. The bird had to be euthanised due to the severity of its injuries.
Gloucestershire Constabulary said it was an “unacceptable crime and one which will be dealt with robustly”.
PC Ash Weller from the Rural Crime Team said: “This is an unacceptable crime and one which will be dealt with robustly if the offender is identified”.
An X-ray of the bird revealed multiple bone fractures caused by the lead shot, therefore suggesting a shotgun was used.
“We are exploring all avenues as this could have been someone travelling through the area rather than someone local to the area.
“We are working closely with shooting and animal protection organisations, who are equally appalled by this act and are assisting us with our enquiries.”
An officer from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said the species had almost been driven to extinction in the 19th century and that the shooting of one was a “blow”.
Jenny Shelton, investigations liaison officer at the RSPB, said: “Red kites are a joy to encounter on a country walk, or even soaring over our homes, identified by their long, red wings and distinctive forked tail.
“We can’t take these birds for granted. only 40 years ago they were a rare sight having been driven almost to extinction in the UK the 19th century.
“To know that they are still being illegally killed is a blow to anyone who enjoys and values the natural world. All birds of prey are protected by law and if anyone has any information that might help with this police investigation, I urge you to come forward.”