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3 Red Kites Illegally Poisoned near Argaty Red Kite Project

A red kite who has fathered 16 chicks since his release in 1999 is one of three kites found dead near Wild Scotland member and highly successful visitor attraction, Argaty Red Kite Project, just north of Stirling.

Experts believe that, owing to the high levels of toxin found in the birds during post mortem examination, the birds were deliberately killed.

Staff and locals at the project near Doune, which draws people from all over the world to watch the birds feed, are outraged at the selfish actions of those responsible. Mike McDonnell, head ranger at Argaty, said: “I am sickened at this selfish and totally needless act. One of the dead birds has been a frequent visitor to the feeding station since his release here and has given pleasure to hundreds of visitors with his wonderful flying displays. He has been a regular breeder in that time, and it is particularly sad that another of the victims is one of his offspring.”

A bird watching hide at the farm allows wildlife-watching enthusiasts, young and old, a thrilling close-quarter opportunity to see the birds feeding. Many schools also use the facility as a valuable teaching resource in introducing children to Scotland’s wildlife and to wildlife-friendly farming. In addition it has also meant good business for local communities who have been pleased at the number of visitors taking advantage of local shops and eating places.

Niall Bowser, who farms Argaty as well as running the project, said: “We set out to show that livestock farming, a pheasant shoot and the red kites are not incompatible land uses. Sometimes it takes a bit of juggling but we can honestly say that the kites have never caused us a problem. They are mainly carrion eaters and are certainly no threat to our other activities. On the contrary, they have created a new employment opportunity when the countryside is more often being depleted of jobs. Whoever is responsible for this has attacked not just these rare and beautiful birds but also the local community and the opportunity to show children what the countryside is all about.”

Determined to turn these deaths into a positive, Lynn and Niall Bowser are urging the public to join the fight to eradicate wildlife crime. Lynn says, “We at Argaty would urge anyone who knows anything about this despicable poisoning to contact the police or the Campaign against Illegal Poisoning.” (0800 321 6000 calls are free.)  

Willie Milne, Higher Agricultural Officer from the Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate, who is investigating this incident along with Central Scotland Police, states “It is vital that any suspicions of wildlife crime are reported to the Police immediately, if possible speaking directly with a wildlife crime officer. If anyone finds a dead bird of prey it is important that no-one touches it and that children and pets are kept well away: poison is not choosy in what it kills!”

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