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RSPB reveals shock Black Isle red kite death figures

By Philip Murray

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Red kite in flight
Red kite in flight

A SIXTH of all illegal red kite deaths in Scotland in the past 20 years occurred during the single mass poisoning on the Black Isle last year.

The shock figures were revealed by RSPB Scotland yesterday after it launched a report highlighting the persecution of all birds of prey in Scotland between 1994 and 2014. Almost 800 protected raptors were illegally killed between those years.

In total, 468 birds of prey were poisoned, 173 were shot and 76 were caught in illegal traps. There were also seven attempted shootings.

The figures include 104 red kites, 37 golden eagles, 30 hen harriers, 16 goshawks and 10 white-tailed eagles.

Sixteen of the 104 red kites illegally killed died during the mass poisoning around Conon Bridge and the Black Isle in spring 2014. The incident also caused the deaths of six buzzards.

RSPB Scotland said the review showed most illegal killings took place in areas associated with game-bird shooting – especially areas intensively managed for driven grouse shooting.

Director of RSPB Scotland, Stuart Housden, said: "We recognise that many landowners and their staff have helped with positive conservation efforts for birds of prey, particularly with reintroduction programmes for white–tailed eagles and red kites, and that the majority operate legitimate shooting businesses.

"But there are still far too many who do not act responsibly, and there will be no improvement in the conservation status of raptors until all land management is carried out wholly within the law."

Police have yet to solve the mystery of the red kite poisonings on the Black Isle last year. No-one has been charged and the case remains open.

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