Police appeal after red kites poisoned in Northern Ireland
The PSNI has launched an investigation after a pair of protected birds died after being poisoned in Co Down.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) NI and the PSNI have appealed for information after the pair of protected red kites died.
A male bird was found in distress close to a known nest site in the Katesbridge area on April 24. A member of the public alerted RSPB NI but the bird died shortly afterwards.
When the RSPB NI red kite project officer attended the scene, she found the female parent bird immobile on the nest - she too was dead. A rescue mission was launched in an attempt to save three orphaned eggs found in the nest beneath the deceased mother.
The bodies of the parent birds were collected and taken for toxicology testing by the PSNI. This has now revealed that both birds - known as Blue 21 and Red 63 -died from Carbofuran poisoning. 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. Carbofuran is a highly toxic pesticide which has been banned across the EU since 2001 due to its high toxicity towards wildlife and humans.
The male bird brings food for the incubating female bird, so it is possible that the male bird found a poisoned bait - such as a rabbit - and likely brought this back to the nest to feed the female bird. Under licence from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), the rescue operation ensured that the three eggs were fostered into two wild red kite nests, alongside other eggs, in the hope of saving them.