Police are appealing for information after a Yorkshire Red Kite was shot in Leeds.
The incident happened on Thursday 10 May when an injured Red Kite was found by two walkers on a footpath just inside the northern boundary of the Harewood Estate.
They took the bird to the estate office, who arranged for it to be cared for by staff at the Harewood Bird Garden. It had suffered serious injuries and was taken by staff to a nearby veterinary practice for treatment.
X-rays revealed that the bird had been shot and a pellet was lodged in its right wing. The bird was put down by staff at the practice, as its injuries were too severe for it to survive and wouldn’t have been able to fly any distance.
It is believed the shooting occurred close to the entry point of the public footpath into the Harewood Estate from the A659, near to the junction with the A61 at the bottom of Harewood Bank.
West Yorkshire Police are appealing for witnesses who were in the area and may have seen anything suspicious; to come forward and contact the police to assist with their investigation.
In 2016, at around the same time of the year, six Red Kites were known to have been shot in Yorkshire – two in West Yorkshire and four in North Yorkshire.
In all but one of these cases, the injuries proved fatal. Other instances of kites being targeted by firearms, include one fatally shot at Pateley Bridge in 2017 and several which had been victims of illegal poisoning but which had been found to be carrying lead shot from non-fatal shooting incidents.
Ben Lascelles, Development Manager at Harewood Estate, said: “The Harewood Estate works hard to champion conservation of Red Kites and other native wildlife, and many thousands of people visit us each year to enjoy them. To discover one of these majestic birds has been shot is particularly disappointing and upsetting.”
Howard Jones, RSPB Investigations Officer, said: “Illegal persecution is a real and persistent threat to birds of prey like red kites. They’re a wonderful sight, and the conservation effort to return these birds to our skies has been huge – it is disgraceful that some are spoiling this through their thoughtless and criminal actions.
“The RSPB’s new raptor crime hotline on 0300 999 0101 allows whistle-blowers to come forward confidentially in relation to this type of crime and, given the number of illegally kites in Yorkshire, we hope someone will speak up and reveal who is responsible.”
Doug Simpson, Yorkshire Red Kites Co-ordinator, said: “This latest attack on the reintroduced Red Kite population is particularly sickening. A lot of hard work has gone into this programme and for someone to strike right at the heart of it, at the actual release site, is both unbelievable and devastating. It once again raises the question of the suitability of some people to own guns.
“No fewer than 43 Red Kites have been confirmed as victims of illegal persecution since releases began in Yorkshire in 1999. That 23 of them have been found by people out in the countryside shows the importance of everyone keeping their eyes open for anything untoward and reporting it.”
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call West Yorkshire Police on 101 quoting crime reference number 13180232956. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous can call the RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101.