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Police appeal after shocking extent of red kite persecution

Police are urging members of the public to support them in the fight against red kite persecution, after another bird was found shot last weekend.

On the morning of Sunday 22 May, a walker on Hall Lane, Blubberhouses, found an injured red kite, in distress and unable to fly. They contacted a wildlife charity, and the bird was taken to a specialist avian vet in Harrogate.

Examination revealed the bird had been shot and had a shattered wing. Sadly, its injury was so severe, it had to be euthanized. The shooting may have taken place a few days before the bird was found.

  • It is an offence to take, injure or kill a red kite or to take, damage or destroy its nest, eggs or young.
  • It is also an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb the birds close to their nest during the breeding season.
  • Violation of the law can attract fines up to £5,000 per offence and/or a prison sentence of up to six months.

In the last two months, five red kites in North Yorkshire have been shot or died in circumstances that suggest poisoning, as well as three further afield in the region.

red kite blubberhouse

Of those eight red kites, five have been shot. One, found near Malton, was rehabilitated and released back to the wild, but the other four were so badly injured they had to be euthanized by a vet. The three suspected poisoned birds are being examined by the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme.

PC Gareth Jones, Wildlife Crime Co-ordinator at North Yorkshire Police, said:

Red kites were persecuted into virtual extinction in the UK, but in recent years they have been re-introduced through breeding programmes at a number of locations nationally. In Yorkshire, they have spread from their release site at Harewood House, and are now breeding over a large area. Red kites are scavengers, and normally eat carrion, their favourite food being rats and rabbits.

Red kites are magnificent birds than can be regularly seen soaring over our area, bringing pleasure to many people. They are a Schedule 1 bird and as such are afforded special protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. I am personally saddened by the scale of persecution of these birds – it has to stop, and I would ask for anyone who can help this investigation to get in touch.

red kite

Anyone with information that could assist the investigation is asked to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 2 and ask for PC Gareth Jones, or email

You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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