Within the last few days a series of incidents have been reported on or reports issued by official bodies on the ever increasing level of raptor persecution.
Red Kites in Northumberland have suffered with two adults being found dead near Stocksfield and a further pair, a few weeks previously near Hexham. The first pair had delighted many visitors to a nearby viewing point and had been "adopted" by the local schools. Whilst no results are forthcoming the carcases have been submitted for forensic analysis. An element I always feel is under promoted in all this refers to the actual presence of poisons in the open countryside and the potential this holds for even more tragic circumstances!!
On the Black Isle near Inverness the discovery of at least ten dead young birds close to fledging in a small number of nests was disturbing news. It was suspected all had died from the results of rodenticide poisoning. Many of the latter products can be bought quite openly and legally but it is their indiscriminate use in the open countryside which then causes the problem. Whilst rats are a problem around many farms and elsewhere in the countryside, and quite rightly should be controlled, carcasses can be utilised by Red Kites, who are carrion feeders, and fed to their young. The RSPB has produced a leaflet on the responsible control of rodent infestations which obviously addresses the point of trying to overcome and minimize such tragic accidents by informed choices.
And as if this wasn't enough the latest report from the Scottish Government's body, Science Advice to Scottish Agriculture, summarizes, for 2009, 166 reported incidents. Of theses 36 were categorized as "abuse" and 61% of these involved birds ( Buzzard 22, Golden Eagle2, White-tailed Eagle 1, Tawny Owl 1 and Red Kite 4 ). The struggle still goes on!