Red kite reintroduced to Cumbrian forest shot dead

Kite release
Image caption The red kites were only released into Grizedale Forest in August

One of a group of red kites, reintroduced into Cumbria for the first time in 160 years, has been shot dead.

The male bird was one of 30 released in Grizedale Forest in the Lake District in August.

Cumbria Police said a post-mortem examination revealed the bird, which was found in Artengill in Dentdale, had been shot four times in the chest.

Police have begun an investigation with the Forestry Commission and Natural England to catch those responsible.

The bird was identified by a wing tag and leg ring put in place when it was released.

Cumbria Police wildlife officer Pc John Shaw, said: "It is the first time in 160 years that these birds have flown in Cumbrian skies and we are shocked and deeply saddened that anyone would kill one.

'Mindlessly shot'

"To persecute these birds after all the hard work and effort which has gone into reintroducing them is disgraceful."

Iain Yoxall, Forestry Commission wildlife ranger in charge of the red kite reintroduction project, added: "The news that one of these magnificent birds has been mindlessly shot out of the sky is very sad indeed.

"I cannot understand why anyone would want to shoot one of these fabulous birds. They do not attack gamebirds or livestock as they are predominantly carrion feeders."

Red kites almost became extinct from England between the 16th and 19th Centuries because they were over-hunted and lost their habitats.

The Grizedale programme is the ninth reintroduction of red kites into different regions of the UK, and the final reintroduction phase in England.

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