Shotgun wounds on the red kite that led to it having to be put down. Photo: North Yorkshire Police

Shotgun wounds on the red kite that led to it having to be put down. Photo: North Yorkshire Police

Police are appealing for the public’s help after a protected bird of prey was killed in what they described as a shocking act of cruelty.

North Yorkshire Police said the red kite was found by a walker on farmland near the hamlet of Nidd, north of Harrogate.

The bird had an injured right wing when it was discovered on Saturday, officers said.

The raptor was taken to an avian specialist vet, but its wing was so severely damaged that it had to be put down. X-rays confirmed it had been shot with a shotgun. The vet believed the bird had been shot while in flight, and had survived, unable to fly, for up to two days, before it was found.

PC Gareth Jones, wildlife crime co-ordinator at North Yorkshire Police, said: “Red kites are majestic birds that mainly feed on carrion and pose no threat to game birds, farmed animals or pets.

“It has taken many years to re-introduce red kites after their extinction from the UK by persecution.

“People in Harrogate have become used to seeing red kites soaring above the town, and will be shocked by this meaningless and cruel act.

An x-ray of the bird showing the shot embedded in it. Photo: North Yorkshire Police

An x-ray of the bird showing the shot embedded in it. Photo: North Yorkshire Police

“I would ask members of the public who were in the areas of Nidd, Brearton and Scotton on Thursday or Friday last week to contact North Yorkshire Police if they have any information that could assist the investigation.”

Last year North Yorkshire Police launched a campaign raising awareness of illegal bird of prey persecution. The force has a number of specialist wildlife crime officers, and a comprehensive wildlife crime website.

Earlier this year, the force supported World Wildlife Day on 3 March, highlighting its ongoing commitment to tackling wildlife crime.

Anyone with information is asked to ring 101, select option 2 and ask for PC Gareth Jones at Ripon. Reference number should be quoted NYP-27042016-0256.

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