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Police have launched an investigation after a young red kite was found dead in the Grizedale and Rusland area.
The bird, marked as number four, was one of 30 red kites reintroduced to Grizedale Forest in Cumbria in August last year. It was discovered on April 20, under a tree it had been roosting in, with a single shotgun wound.
PC John Shaw, Cumbria Police wildlife and rural environmental crime officer, said:
“This is the second known incident involving released kites to have died through persecution by shooting. It is disturbing and difficult to understand why anyone would want to shoot these birds, which are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.”
Another of the red kites released at Grizedale was shot dead in Dentdale in September last year.
A full investigation involving Cumbria Police and the Forestry Commission is now under way. The shooting of birds such as red kites, which are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, carries a possible six-month prison sentence and up to £5,000 fine.
Iain Yoxall, Forestry Commission wildlife ranger responsible for the red kite reintroduction programme at Grizedale Forest, said:
“It is very sad news to hear that another red kite has been needlessly killed.
“These birds are a native species that were almost eliminated from the UK partly because of persecution. It has been fabulous to see them in the skies over Cumbria again and they are starting to become a fantastic addition to the region’s biodiversity – it just does not make sense why people would want to harm or kill them.”
Red kites are predominantly carrion feeders and do not attack game birds or livestock.
Anyone with any information into this latest incident is urged to contact Cumbria Police wildlife crimes officers on 0845 33 00 247 or anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
The Forestry Commission consulted widely with local landowners as part of the reintroduction project and established a special advisory group, which includes organisations like Natural England, the RSPB and the British Association of Shooting and Conservation.
Notes to editors
The Forestry Commission is the largest provider of countryside recreation in Britain, with responsibility for more than one million hectares (2.4 million acres) of forest, woodlands and open countryside. The North West England Forest District covers the Lake District in Cumbria, the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Cheshire. The forests are managed for conservation, wildlife, landscape and recreation as well as providing a valuable source of timber.
Media contacts: Mike Thornley on 01229 862012 or Sarah Bruce on 01229-862011