Red kite shot in 'shocking act of cruelty' in North Yorkshire

image copyrightNorth Yorkshire Police
image captionThe red kite was found alive two days after it was hit by a shotgun, police say

A protected bird of prey found shot in a field was killed in a "shocking act of cruelty", police have said.

The red kite was discovered injured by a walker on farmland around Nidd, near Harrogate, on Saturday.

North Yorkshire Police said it had been shot multiple times while it was flying and had to be put down by a vet because "its wing was so severely damaged".

It is the second rare bird to have been shot in the county within the last month.

An adult female red kite was found injured at Low Marishes, near Malton, on 25 March and was treated at a rescue centre.

image copyrightNorth Yorkshire Police
image captionWounds can be seen on the red kite where it was shot in the chest and underside of its wing
image copyrightNorth Yorkshire Police
image captionAn X-ray image of the bird shows where the shot entered the body

Red kites are protected under schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and anyone found killing one can face up to six months in jail.

Officers said the rare bird had survived the shooting but was unable to fly. It was found by the walker two days after it had been shot in the chest and underside of its wing.

PC Gareth Jones said: "Red kites are majestic birds that mainly feed on carrion and pose no threat to game birds, farmed animals or pets. It has taken many years to re-introduce red kites after their extinction from the UK by persecution.

"People in Harrogate have become used to seeing red kites soaring above the town and will be shocked by this meaningless and cruel act.

"I would ask members of the public who were in the areas of Nidd, Brearton and Scotton on Thursday or Friday last week to contact North Yorkshire Police if they have any information that could assist the investigation."

There are about 1,000 red kites in England.

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