Red kites have been shot in the national park. Photo: Walter Baxter CC-BY-SA-2.0

Red kites have been shot in the national park. Photo: Walter Baxter CC-BY-SA-2.0

Police in the North York Moors are appealing for information after a red kite was shot.

They are linking the incident with another shooting of a red kite in the same area, and the possible sighting of an injured raptor near Westerdale.

North Yorkshire Police said they are aware that local gamekeepers will come under suspicion. “However we will investigate with an open mind, gathering information from a variety of sources, and not be led by assumptions,” a spokesperson said.

The police rural task force said the red kite, suffering with gunshot wounds, was found by a local farmer at 9.30pm on Monday 26 June in Westerdale. “Sadly, despite being taken to a vet it did not survive its injuries,” the spokesperson said.

“This incident follows another recent shooting of a red kite in the area on Tuesday 13 June. North Yorkshire Police have also received information that there may be a third injured red kite, photographed by walkers on Friday 23 June, on the opposite side of the valley.

“We believe that these incidents are linked. This disturbing criminal behaviour and persecution of innocent birds of prey will not be tolerated and must cease immediately.
Police are renewing their appeal for any information in relation to raptor persecution.”

Tom Hind, chief executive officer of the North York Moors National Authority, said: “We are appalled to hear of recent shootings of red kite in the North York Moors. Wildlife crime and raptor persecution are illegal, immoral and have no place in this national park.

“Those behind these callous acts should recognise the disservice they have done to the entire North York Moors community. Ultimately those responsible may find they have shot not only a wonderful bird of prey, but also themselves in the foot.

“It is vital that anyone with information about these incidents, or any other wildlife crime in our region, call North Yorkshire Police on 101. We cannot let this crime go unpunished.”

Police said, in response to the ongoing persecution against birds of prey in the North Yorkshire Moors, its rural taskforce officers have increased marked and unmarked patrols in target areas to protect wildlife and deter offenders.

Red kites were saved from national extinction by one of the world’s longest-running protection programmes and have been successfully reintroduced to England and Scotland. Red kites are listed under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, making their persecution illegal.

North Yorkshire Police said, in collaboration with the British Association of Shooting and Conservation, Countryside Alliance, Moorland Association and the National Gamekeepers Association take a zero-tolerance approach to raptor persecution.

“All agencies agree that ‘there is no excuse for illegally killing of any bird of prey and unreservedly condemn all such acts. Any individual convicted of a crime against a bird of prey will be expelled from the organisation’,” it said.

The advice to the public is: if you spot a dead or injured bird, poisoned bait or a pole trap, to note the location, take a photo and call North Yorkshire Police on 101 to report it.

Information can be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

People are asked to quote police reference 12230107850 when passing on information. Anyone with information about the incident can email Jack Donaldson at North Yorkshire Police.

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