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Dublin: 2°C Wednesday 20 January 2021

Endangered bird found dead with gunshot wounds in Co Down

Conservationists are calling it a “deliberate” attack.

Efforts are being made to reintroduce the red kite in Northern Ireland.
Efforts are being made to reintroduce the red kite in Northern Ireland.
Image: Stephen Wilson/PA Images

AN EXTREMELY RARE red kite bird has been found dead in what conservationists are calling a “deliberate” attack.

The three-month-old bird was found with gunshot wounds in a laneway in Co Down, at Moneyslane between Banbridge and Newcastle, last Thursday.

Alan Ferguson, from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), called it “truly heartbreaking”.

He said, “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.

Ferguson said that the RSPB had been working to increase the red kite population in the wild in recent years.

“I really thought we were turning a corner,” he said, “because persecution incidents seemed to be dropping off and the last confirmed shooting of a red kite happened in Crossgar in 2014″.

The PSNI is investigating the incident. Wildlife officer Emma Meredith said, “The PSNI takes all reports of wildlife crime seriously. If anyone has information about the death of this protected bird then we would be really keen to hear from you.”

The red kite has a reddish-brown body and a forked tail. It was saved from extinction in the UK, and has been successfully reintroduced in England and Scotland.

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Sean Murray

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