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Last Updated: Friday, 15 June 2007, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
Police probe rare bird poisoning
Dead Red Kite
A post mortem found the bird had ingested a toxic chemical
Police are investigating the suspected poisoning of one of the UK's rarest birds of prey.

The red kite, which had been radio tagged by RSPB Scotland, was found near Tomintoul, Moray, last month.

A post mortem examination found it had died from ingesting the highly toxic and illegal substance Carbofuran.

Grampian Police said it strongly suspected that the red kite had eaten bait laced with the chemical and intended to kill birds of prey.

The dead bird, which had originally come from the Black Isle, was found in dense woodland in the Cairngorm National Park in May.

It is believed its corpse had been lying dead at the site since April.

Carbofuran had previously been licensed for use as a root crop insecticide in the vegetable growing industry.

The placing of poisoned baits in our countryside is a highly reckless and irresponsible practice
PC David MacKinnon

Officers described it as a highly toxic substance and anything ingesting it normally died close to where the bait is placed.

PC David MacKinnon, Grampian's wildlife crime officer, said: "The placing of poisoned baits in our countryside is a highly reckless and irresponsible practice.

"Not only can it have serious health implications for the person illegally placing the bait but also for anyone finding and handling either a bait or a victim.

"In this case a specially protected bird has been killed but there may have been other victims which have not been found."

He appealed to members of the public to come forward with any information and said they could remain anonymous.

Particularly vulnerable

Persecution by game breeders, taxidermists and egg collectors meant that by the mid 20th Century only 30 red kites remained in the UK.

Reintroduction programmes have seen their population increase to 430 breeding pairs.

An RSPB Scotland spokesman said: "People and landowners all over the north east will be as saddened as we are by this terrible crime.

"Shameful cases like this made these inspiring and beautiful birds extinct in Scotland during Victorian times, yet such illegal acts continue year after year."

He said red kites are particularly vulnerable to poisoning practice as they are largely carrion eaters.

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