Red Kite found shot and poisoned in Co Durham


A dead Red Kite found near a raptor persecution hot-spot in Co Durham has been confirmed as having been shot and poisoned.

The bird was discovered hanging in a tree near Stanhope Burn by a member of the public in October 2022. Its body was x-rayed and found to contain pieces of shot – and when it was sent for official toxicology examination, the body was found to contain the highly toxic pesticides carbofuran and bendiocarb, which were confirmed by testing to be the cause of death. 

An investigator collecting the shot and poisoned Red Kite near Stanhope (RSPB).

Both these substances are frequently seen in bird of prey poisoning cases despite being banned for legal use in the UK for many years.

This is the latest of a series of crimes involving birds of prey being illegally killed in this part of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In 2020, two GPS satellite-tagged Red Kites disappeared in the Edmundbyers area in suspicious circumstances. In 2021, a Red Kite was found poisoned by carbofuran and bendiocarb, also in the Edmundbyers area.

The following year, police and partner agencies conducted a raid on nearby grouse-moor estates in Durham and Northumberland, after previous incidents and intelligence related to bird of prey killing in the area. In March 2023, a Red Kite was found shot, but still alive, on a grouse moor in Edmundbyers.