BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 29 November 2007, 12:50 GMT
Police probe red kite poisonings
Red kite
Red kites are scavengers which eat already dead animals
Rare birds of prey from an award winning reintroduction project have been found poisoned.

Three red kites from the Argaty Red Kite visitor centre near Doune were discovered outside the grounds of the farm a few weeks ago.

Post mortem examinations on the birds have revealed extremely high levels of poison in their systems.

One of the birds killed had fathered 16 red kite chicks since his release into the wild in 1999.

Investigators said the high level of toxin in the bird's system meant the poisonings were unlikely to have been accidental.

A Central Scotland Police wildlife crime officer is investigating the incident.

The continuing illegal persecution of red kites in Scotland is deplorable, irresponsible and criminal
James Reynolds
RSPB Scotland

Lynn Bowser, who runs the Argaty project, said that despite red kites being scavengers which eat already dead animals, they can be targeted by gamekeepers who view all birds of prey as a threat.

She said: "This must have been a deliberate act - there is no other way that such high levels of toxin could be in these birds.

"We are very angry about it.

"These birds are not a threat to anything - that is what is really galling.

"They don't eat anything much other than the carcasses of dead animals."

The deaths are the latest in a spate of poisonings of red kites across Scotland.

'Shameful incidents'

Red kites were common in Scotland 250 years ago, but were hunted to extinction.

Reintroduction schemes have resulted in about 80 breeding pairs, with populations now well established in parts of the country.

In July, red kites reintroduced to the Highlands by Harrods boss Mohammed Al Fayed were found poisoned near Tomintoul, Aviemore and Fort Augustus.

The RSPB say such poisoning incidents are on the increase.

James Reynolds of RSPB Scotland described the incident as "shameful".

He said: "The continuing illegal persecution of red kites in Scotland is deplorable, irresponsible and criminal.

"As these shameful incidents at Argaty demonstrate, their impact can spread way beyond persecution of rare protected species, and can damage businesses and other interests in the area."

'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
Pesticide used to kill rare birds
24 Jul 07 |  Tayside and Central
Funding boost for Red Kite scheme
11 Jun 07 |  North East/N Isles

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific