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Kites project praised in Commons

26 March 08 16:23 GMT

A scheme to re-introduce one of Britain's rarest birds of prey to the North East has been praised by MPs.

The Northern Kites Project has released more than 100 red kites into one of its former strongholds in Gateshead's lower Derwent Valley in the last four years.

The birds used to be a common sight in the UK, but human persecution meant they were extinct by the 19th Century.

A Commons motion, tabled by Labour's Dave Anderson, MP for Blaydon, welcomed the re-introduction of the red kites.

The motion said: "We recognise the re-introduction of the kites is the first of its kind where birds have been bred and freed very close to a large urban conurbation".

Urban area

The motion, signed by eight MPs, added: "The project has gone from strength to strength and is a matter of great interest and pride in the local area."

Attempts to save the distinctive birds began as early as 1905. but gathered pace in the late 1980s and 1990s when kites from Sweden and Spain were introduced.

There are now around 2,000 of the birds in the UK.

The project, managed by the RSPB and Natural England, is the first scheme to attempt to re-introduce the birds near a large urban area.

The birds, which eat carrion, worms and small mammals, have been released in a semi-urban environment.

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