North Yorkshire Police have just issued a release appealing for information regarding the killing of a red kite in Nidderdale. Anyone with information about this red kite, or any other incidents in the area, should call the police on 101.

The adult red kite was found dead by an estate worker on 25 October 2018 near Wath, north of Harrogate, within the Nidderdale AONB – an area renowned for the illegal killing of birds of prey. It was reported to North Yorkshire Police who arranged for it to be x-rayed by a vet. This showed two pieces of shot lodged within the bird’s hip and wing, though one of these was an older injury indicating the birds had been shot at on at least two occasions. However, it did not appear these were responsible for the death of the bird so samples were submitted for toxicology tests.

It has now emerged that the kite was actually poisoned by a cocktail of highly toxic pesticides, two of which are banned. For one bird to have been twice shot AND poisoned shows the utter onslaught that birds of prey are up against.

Horrific incidents like this are exactly why we have launched an appeal, asking people to support our work trying to stamp out raptor persecution. RSPB Investigations work tirelessly to help make this sort of illegal killing a thing of the past. Donations will go towards keeping staff out in the field monitoring birds, investigating disappearances, following up reports from the public, assisting police investigations and investing in technology.  

According to data collated by the RSPB, and a history of 'disappearing' satellite tagged hen harriers, this general area in and around Nidderdale, with extensive driven grouse shooting, is the worst black spot for these crimes in England. The RSPB Raptor Persecution Map Hub reveals this and other persecution blackspots around the UK.

Among a depressing catalogue of shot and poisoned red kites and buzzards, are some notorious incidents such as the shooting of tagged hen harrier 'Bowland Betty' in 2012, the prosecution of a gamekeeper using a pole trap, and most recently, in April 2019 the hen harrier River was found dead on Ilton Moor on the Swinton Estate, Nidderdale following a search by North Yorkshire Police and RSPB Investigations. She had been shot.

River being tagged as a chick

It is clear there is a particularly serious problem in this area, and it is encouraging that an AONB representative is now on the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG) led by Superintendent Nick Lyall.

As always we rely heavily on the public acting as our eyes and ears in the countryside and reporting any incidents of concern.We would urge people to be vigilant while out and about this summer. A poisoned bird lying dead on the ground could be found by anyone and is a massive heath risk to people and pets as well as other wildlife. Something must be done about this before someone is seriously hurt.

More information on how to report raptor persecution incidents can be found on the RSPB website and also on the new RPPDG Operation Owl website.