Page last updated at 17:44 GMT, Monday, 23 June 2008 18:44 UK

Red kite dies days after shooting

The dead red kite
The SSPCA set up a special hotline for any information about the shooting

A rare red kite has died after being shot out of the sky over a Berwickshire grouse moor.

The bird was found injured on Monday 16 June by members of the public who were out walking.

The young female was taken to a vet, with a wound on her wing and another on her back, but she died three days later of massive internal injuries.

The Scottish SPCA called it a "pointless and senseless killing" and appealed for information.

The red kite, which has a distinctive forked tail, is believed to have come from Dumfries or the north of England.

Doreen Graham of the SSPCA said the shot bird had been taken to the Berwick Swan Trust and had seemed to be making progress.

Iconic bird

But a post-mortem examination revealed that a ruptured liver and damage to the digestive system caused her death.

The carrion-eating birds of prey have not been reintroduced into the Borders because of high rates of wildlife crime in the area.

This is the second iconic bird to be deliberately persecuted, after a golden eagle was poisoned in Peeblesshire last year.

The eagle was one half of the only breeding pair in the Borders and its death sparked international outcry.

Anyone convicted of killing a bird of prey faces six months in prison and a 2,000 fine under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

The SSPCA has set up a special hotline - 0870 240 4832 - for any information about the shooting.

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