Kirkcudbright red kites were poisoned, tests reveal
Tests have confirmed that two out of three red kites found dead in southern Scotland last month were illegally poisoned.
The birds were discovered near Kirkcudbright in early May.
Post mortem examinations have shown illegal pesticides were used to kill two of the birds with results on the third still awaited.
Police said an investigation was ongoing and have asked for help from the public with information.
Det Con Gary Story said they were working closely with the Scottish SPCA and Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture.
"What we have established is that illegal pesticides have been used to kill two of the birds," he said.
"The pesticides identified have been banned in the UK for many years but despite this there would still appear to be those who leave out poisoned bait, whether that is to target crows, foxes, raptors or other wildlife.
"The use of such poisoned bait is illegal and totally unacceptable and those responsible should understand that their unlawful activities not only serve to have devastating consequences on their intended targets but also on various other forms of wildlife."
He said they were "absolutely determined" to put a stop to the deaths and were working with landowners and farmers and RSPB Scotland as part of their investigation.
"We have also carried out a number of land searches in the vicinity of where the birds have been located with a view to trying to locate poisoned bait at these locations," he said.
"It is anticipated that further land searches will take place in the near future."
Scottish SPCA inspector Paul Tuchewicz said two dead red kites had been found within 50 yards of one another near Kirkcudbright on 10 May.
"One of the birds had a tracker and we were able to check the last known location of the kite, which was a nest," he said.
"The nest was being used by ravens when we found it.
"After post mortem, the birds were found to have been poisoned with a banned substance."
The third bird was found within 100 yards of the same location on 15 May.
A red kite trail in Dumfries and Galloway is reckoned to be worth millions of pounds to the local economy.
A study in 2017 said the Galloway Kite Trail had generated more than £8.2m since it was launched in 2003.