The stark contrast between the terrible actions of one human being and the kindness of another can sometimes knock you sideways. We see this a lot when dealing with incidents involving birds of prey that have been deliberately (and illegally) killed or injured.

Earlier this month, a red kite which was shot and injured, and cared for by vets and raptor workers, sadly had to be euthanised.

The bird, a female, was found by a member of the public in Deene Park, Corby in Northamptonshire. It was taken to the Raptor Foundation near Huntingdon, Cambs then examined by a vet. Three shotgun pellets were found lodged in the bird’s leg, shoulder and ear.

The police appealed for information and made local enquiries, but no information was forthcoming.

Simon Dudhill, from the Raptor Foundation, said:

“The leg and shoulder pellets were not really an issue as they were below joints. However the pellet in the ear was lodged in the bony part of the skull and was causing the bird problems with its balance. The vet and I agreed that the bird couldn’t be released back into the wild with the pellet still inside, so we decided to operate.”

The operation was successful in removing the pellet from the kite’s ear, but the bird struggled to improve.

“Sadly, despite two months of hard work by ourselves and our vets, we had to make the extremely disappointing decision to put her to sleep. None of her balance had returned, she was only able to get about 15 inches off the ground onto a log, and the rest of the time she was dragging her wings and body along the ground. We all felt it was not in the bird’s best interest to keep her in this poor condition, as any further improvement was not expected.

“Despite this sad outcome we will never stop doing all we can to help these amazing birds.”

X-ray showing the pellet in the bird's skull

We’re so grateful to the staff at the Raptor Foundation, and to Northants police, who dedicated their time and resources to helping this kite. It’s hard to get into the mind of anyone who would deliberately flout the law and fire a gun at a bird like this. But while the horrific actions of one person started this story, resulting in a kite being deliberately wounded beyond repair, it’s a relief to know there are also people out there like Simon and the team.

Paul Mitchinson was the Wildlife Crime Officer on this case. He said: 

"This was a case where a protected animal was deliberately shot. The police will take positive action and respond to any information received. This was such a cruel and sad case that should never have happened."

If you find an injured bird of prey in suspicious circumstances, please contact the police on 101 and the RSPB on 01767 680551. Thank you.