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Red Kite poisoning – Police make information appeal

[Thursday 07 May 2009]
Red Kite in flight
Red Kite

POLICE are appealing for information after a rare bird of prey was found dead in the Greenhow area of the Yorkshire Dales.

The Red Kite was poisoned after apparently eating bait laced with the pesticide alphachloralose, which is often used illegally as a method of pest control.

Numbers of Red Kites have risen in Britain since a programme was introduced in 1989 to recover the species, which was in danger of dying out. Only a handful of the birds remained, living in a remote valley in Wales.

The programme has since proved to be a success and over the past 5 years Kites have settled in Craven, where the habitat is perfect for them.

North Yorkshire Police are working with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Natural England and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, to highlight the importance of protecting rare species. Ian Court the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s wildlife conservation officer said: “We are very concerned to hear about the illegal poisoning of this Red Kite because the species is only just starting to breed in the National Park again after an absence of several hundred years.

“Given there are so few here, the loss of one bird will have a very significant impact on the local population.

“We hope the police will be able to track down those responsible and we would ask those visiting the National Park to report any suspicious incidents they see to the police.”

Some farmers and gamekeepers wrongly believe that Kites are a pest, however they are mainly scavengers, feeding on a diet of dead rabbit and other deceased animals. The pesticide used for poisoning the birds is in danger of eradicating them again after much hard work to preserve them.

...anyone found to be committing such an offence, aiding such an offence, or permitting such an offence will be arrested, investigated and put before the courts

PC Vanessa Bateson - North Yorkshire Police

James Leonard, RSPB investigations officer said; “ As scavengers Red Kites are extremely vulnerable to this kind of poisoning.

“As well as being cruel unnecessary and illegal, it is also selfish because it denies people the sight of these magnificent birds. Red Kites were lost from England once before because of this kind of persecution and only bought back after a major effort. The RSPB will work with North Yorkshire Police to make sure the minority who commit these crimes are made to answer to the courts.”

Not only are Red Kites at risk from alphachloralose poisoning, but visitors to the Yorkshire Dales can also be in danger.

PC Vanessa Bateson, Wildlife Crime Officer for Craven appealed for help in preventing more animals being killed. She said: “Police are aware of domestic pets suffering from the effects of suspected poisoning. This practice is illegal and anyone found to be committing such an offence, aiding such an offence, or permitting such an offence will be arrested, investigated and put before the courts.

“I am urging the public to come forward with any information in relation to persecution, or information about sick pets. More people are coming forward to police and I want to encourage that to continue.”

Anyone who can help police with their enquiries is urged to contact PC Vanessa Bateson, Craven Wildlife Officer on 0845 60 60 247.

Alternatively call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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