The RSPB have issued a history of persecution of Red Kites in Yorkshire – see link below
But no where have the RSPB added the reasons for such killings. The Red Kite is a well known bird for taking carrion but they have learnt [to their cost!] that if they hear gun shots that carrion may well be available. This behaviour is well known to Doug Simpson who ran the successful Red Kite reintroduction in Yorkshire at the Harewood Estate. We phoned Doug to discuss a bird drawn to the guns at Geltsdale in the north Pennines where a partridge shoot was taking place.
In the case of these missing Red Kites in Yorkshire, the birds are being drawn to the Red Grouse shoots but by being over the guns and the direction of the driven Red Grouse the grouse will not go over the guns, and with as many ‘flankers’ you like to employ around the butts the grouse will swerve away from the butts causing a ‘bad drive’ and tax free payments lost by the keepers.
So at every possible occasion keepers will remove Red Kites, Hen Harriers and Buzzards or any thing they think will spoil a day’s shoot. Even Black Grouse! This is called ‘cleaning up’ before the shooting season, nothing to do with breeding, but to makes sure when a shoot takes place there is absolutely NOTHING that will get in the way of a drive and the cash handouts fill the gamekeeper’s pockets at the end of a day’s shooting.
So as long as the RSPB continue to look at persecution of protected birds, the real reason for persecution is being missed which is the ‘tax free’ cash that can swill around a shooting day. This can be in the £10,000s given the present climate at shoots. One keeper was found by the police to have stashed £4000 in cash in a tin box after one shoot! So until the shooting industry cleans up these tax free cash handouts, birds of prey will always be targeted by the keepers! A fine for killing protected birds will be just a fraction of the keepers pocket money!!
Sadly for locals in Nidderdale in Yorkshire, gamekeepers are also destroying Wildlife Tourism throughout this area, which over in Dumfries and Galloway was worth over £8million to the local economy after a ‘Red Kite trail’ was established. This allowed members of the public to visit an area to watch the kites and other wildlife. Nidderdale is well placed with other wildlife attractions like Gouthwaite Reservoir, Brimham Rocks, Bilton Woods and the moors themselves if managed right to create a ‘Kite trail’. This would bring in much more revenue than Dumfries and Galloway as the Nidderdale area is located nearer to a much larger catchment area.
So this killing can be seen to be taking £millions away from the local economy, damaging tourism!!!.