Shock and condemnation as Red Kite is killed


A Red Kite has been found shot dead in Northern Ireland. The grim discovery, near the townland of Leitrim in south County Down, comes just weeks after the bird was re-introduced to Northern Ireland after an absence of more than 200 years. RSPB Northern Ireland released 27 of the birds in July at the start of a three-year species reintroduction programme - the first of its kind in Northern Ireland.

Red Kite found shot near Leitrim in south Co Down (photo: Robert Straughan (rspb-images.com)) .

Tests carried out by the Police Service of Northern Ireland suggest the dead bird may have been killed deliberately. Both its wing tags and an identifying leg-ring had been removed before the bird was recovered by the RSPB. The dead bird would have been no more than four months old.

Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB's Director of Conservation, said: "We are shocked and angered by the senseless killing of one of the recently released Red Kites. These magnificent birds were neither a threat to humans nor livestock, so we can only assume that whoever did this was either ignorant or gets a perverse sense of enjoyment from killing birds of prey. We believe that there will be much anger not only in Northern Ireland but right across the UK. Red Kites are a globally threatened species and their reintroduction became a celebration of the return of an iconic species to Northern Ireland.

Red Kites were hunted to extinction in Ireland over 200 years ago, at a time when there was much misinformation about kites and birds of prey in general. In 2008, there can be no such excuses."

Content continues after advertisements

Red Kite
Red Kite, Gigrin Farm, Powys (Photo: Richard Bedford)

Dr Avery said: "RSPB Northern Ireland had been working tremendously hard behind the scenes for a number of years to get the Red Kite Reintroduction Project off the ground, and we are determined to see it succeed. The message needs to be sent out that these birds should be a treasured addition to our countryside and not a target for illegal shooting."

RSPB Northern Ireland will shortly be visiting schools to tell pupils all about the Red Kites. Sadly, one school will now be deprived the opportunity to name and track one of the birds through the 'Adopt a Kite' initiative.

PSNI Constable Alex Beck said: "Wildlife crime is taken seriously by the PSNI, and its significance cannot be under estimated. Red Kites, like all wild birds, are protected by law under the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. As such, any person involved in this type of crime could find themselves subject to a report to the Public Prosecution Service. I would ask anyone with any information to contact their local PSNI station on 0845 600 8000."

Written by: RSPB