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Monday, 17 February, 2003, 08:59 GMT
Rat poison threatens birds of prey
A red kite in flight
Reintroduction of the red kite began in 1989
Conservationists say the red kite and other birds of prey are threatened because of the careless use of rat poison.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has found that red kites are especially at risk because they feed on dead rats and mice.

Ian Carter, an ornithologist from English Nature who was part of a team which reintroduced the red kite near Corby, Northamptonshire, said that exterminated rats should not be left in open dumps.

He said: "Most people use the poisons very sensibly, but there are things that can be done.

A red kite on a perch
The red kite is at risk as it feeds on dead rats
"In areas where these poisons are being used, make regular searches for rats that might have died out in the open, and make sure those carcasses are disposed of safely - burned or buried."

The RSPB said that barn owls, kestrels and buzzards are also at risk.

Between 1998-2001 about 30 incidents were reported involving birds of prey, where it is likely that rodenticides were the cause of death.

Other surveys have shown that about 70% of red kites have detectable levels of rodenticide residues.


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03 Jan 03 | England
05 Nov 02 | Wales
09 May 01 | Science/Nature
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