The badly injured bird was found by a walker. Photo: North Yorkshire Police

The badly injured bird was found by a walker. Photo: North Yorkshire Police

Police in North Yorkshire have revealed the shocking extent of raptor persecution in the area.

Eight red kites have either been shot or died from suspected poisoning in the past few weeks.

The latest death came after a walker found a badly injured bird on Hall Lane, near Fewston Reservoir, Blubberhouses, west of Harrogate, on Sunday.

North Yorkshire Police said: “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 euthanised. The shooting may have taken place a few days before the bird was found.”

Police said in the past 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.

A spokesperson said: “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 euthanised 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.”

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

Members of the public can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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