June 13, 2009

Red kite’s poisoning under investigation

Police in Scotland are hunting for the killer who left poisoned bait consumed by a red kite, a bird of prey that almost became extinct decades ago.

The bird's carcass was found June 2 near Galashiels in the Borders region, The Scotsman reported Saturday. The investigation is being conducted jointly by Borders and Lothian Police and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Red kites, once common in the British Isles, were near extinction by the 1980s, with only 15 pairs, all of them in Wales. The bird has been reintroduced into England and Scotland, and experts say there are now about 450 pairs.

A police spokesman said searches of several houses failed to lead to an arrest.

Bird experts say that red kites eat carrion and take small mammals like mice, posing no threat to livestock.