Young red kite found dead in Co Down – suspected shot
RSPB NI and the PSNI are appealing for information after a young red kite was found dead in County Down.
The bird was found with suspected gunshot wounds on a public laneway outside Moneyslane (halfway between Banbridge and Newcastle) on Thursday 17th August and was recovered by the RSPB and passed to the PSNI. An initial x-ray indicated there are pieces of shot in the bird and it has now been sent for a post-mortem examination.
The red kite, tagged ‘Black 5W’, was born in May 2017 at a nest site near Downpatrick and was exploring the County Down countryside before its premature death.
Alan Ferguson, RSPB NI Red Kites Project Officer, said, “Any loss of these under-threat birds is utterly heartbreaking. Our red kite population in Northern Ireland is small at just 20 breeding pairs and that makes it particularly vulnerable to losses.
“It would appear that someone has deliberately targeted one of these beautiful creatures, so this is incredibly frustrating and upsetting and is a real setback for the future of the species here.
“RSPB NI have been working on a red kite reintroduction programme for nine years. I really thought we were turning a corner, because persecution incidents seemed to be dropping off and the last confirmed shooting of a red kite happened in Crossgar in 2014. People have really taken the birds to heart and are happy to see them in our skies again.”
In fact, RSPB NI’s new RKites Project has been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and part funded by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council and aims to strengthen the link between people and the red kites.
Red kites, along with all birds of prey, are protected in Northern Ireland under the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985, as amended by the Wildlife and Natural Environment (NI) Act 2011.
Police are appealing for information on the incident and have asked that anyone who can help with enquiries contact the 101 number quoting reference number 837 of 17/8/17.