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Last Updated: Friday, 28 December 2007, 13:35 GMT
Rare birds hit by poisoning rise
Red kite
Red kites are scavengers which eat already dead animals
Some of Scotland's rarest birds have been hit by an increase in poisoning cases, according to nature campaigners.

New figures have showed that 2007 has been one of the worst years for the poisoning of red kites.

The Scottish Agricultural Science Agency confirmed that 11 red kites died as a result of deliberate poisoning this year.

However RSPB Scotland believes the total could be higher, with many birds being deliberately hidden.

Officials have also pointed out that some remains were too badly decomposed for a conclusive post-mortem examination to be held.

Five of the dead birds were found in Perthshire, two in Stirlingshire, and one each in Inverness-shire, South Lanarkshire, Nairn and Moray.

This regrettable activity has hit red kites particularly hard, but they are not the only victims
Duncan Orr-Ewing
RSPB Scotland

The RSPB Scotland also said that nine of the birds who had been killed in this way were found on shooting estates, claiming that illegal poison baits are still put down on a small number of estates.

Duncan Orr-Ewing, head of species and land management at RSPB Scotland, said:"2007 has seen a big resurgence of poisoning activity which has had a devastating impact on some of our rarest birds of prey.

"This regrettable activity has hit red kites particularly hard, but they are not the only victims.

'Wildlife crime'

"Everyone will recall that in August this year the poisoners succeeded in killing one half of the last remaining breeding pair of golden eagles in the Scottish Borders."

He added: "We have seen recent welcome statements from land-owning bodies condemning wildlife crime.

"It is time for this to be turned into real action on the ground, and landowners must take more responsibility for the actions of their employees to stamp out this practice once and for all."

Environment Minister Mike Russell said: "This was an appalling year for the persecution of birds of prey in Scotland, not least the red kite.

"Since its reintroduction, this iconic bird has become a vital part of our biodiversity and deliberately killing them is totally unacceptable."

He added: "A review of the investigation and prosecution of wildlife crime is under way, which I hope will go some way to stamping out these disgraceful incidents."

SEE ALSO
Police probe red kite poisonings
29 Nov 07 |  Tayside and Central
Global outrage over eagle killing
14 Aug 07 |  South of Scotland
'Poisoned' red kite will go free
09 Oct 07 |  Tayside and Central
Poisoning worry over bird of prey
01 Oct 07 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
Third red kite poisoned to death
22 Aug 07 |  Tayside and Central

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