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Scotland: Red Kite shot on Lochindorb Estate

Police Scotland have appealed for information after a witness reported the shooting of a Red Kite on a grouse shooting estate near Grantown-on-Spey.

The Kite was recovered by the Scottish SPCA but the gunshot injuries were so severe the bird had to be euthanised.

Red Kites have full legal protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. They are largely scavengers and not typically hunters of grouse chicks, but have been increasingly targeted on shooting estates as conservation helps populations recover and spread from severe persecution in the past (see our page on Red Kite for more information).

The incident on 27th March occurred just days after the Scottish government announced the Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill which details plans to licence grouse moors. One specific aim of the Bill is to tackle raptor persecution (crimes against birds of prey) which has seen the near-eradication of the Hen Harrier across huge areas of Britain, the near-restriction of Golden Eagles to remote cliffs in Scotland, and widespread persecution of Buzzards, Peregrines and Red Kites.

Protect the Wild has long argued that licencing will not help protect birds of prey without increases in resources for enforcement and a buy-in from police. It is interesting to note, then, that in case Police Scotland (which has been criticised in the recent past for withholding information and location details in raptor poisoning incidents) has named the estate where the Red Kite was shot and in their appeal for information (reprinted below) refer to quad bikes and off road vehicles which are routinely used by gamekeepers and would be very unlikely to be used by members of the public on a grouse moor.

 

APPEAL FOLLOWING BIRD OF PREY SHOT NEAR GRANTOWN-ON-SPEY

“Officers are appealing for information after a protected bird of prey was shot near Grantown-on-Spey.

We received a report of a red kite being shot around 11.15am on Monday, 27 March, on the Lochindorb Estate, Grantown-on-Spey.

It was recovered with the assistance of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) but had to be euthanized as its injuries were not recoverable.

Community Police Inspector Craig Johnstone said: “The red kite is a protected species and under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 it is illegal to kill them.

I am asking anyone in the local community who may be able to help with our enquiries to come forward. If you were walking in the area on Monday then please let us know if you saw anything.

In particular, if you saw quad bikes in the area or off road vehicles, then get in touch as even the smallest bit of information could assist with our investigation.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101, quoting incident number 1760 of Monday, 27 March, or make a call anonymously to the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

 

UPDATE: On the 31st Police Scotland issued a very brief statement which simply said that “A 56-year-old man has been arrested and released pending further investigation after a bird of prey was shot near Grantown-on-Spey.” Time will tell whether this was one of those mysterious ‘men with guns’ that the shooting industry seems to think roam randomly around grouse moors shooting birds of prey, or (as seems far more likely to absolutely everyone else) was employed by the estate as a gamekeeper…

 

  • Featured image Red Kite from Shutterstock

 

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