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article imageProtest over bird of prey deaths in Scotland

By Amanda Payne     Apr 12, 2014 in Environment
Inverness - A protest took place today, April 12, in Inverness over the deaths of 19 birds of prey in the region. Twelve have been confirmed to have been poisoned.
So far 14 red kites and five buzzards have been found dead near Conon Bridge, Ross-shire since March 18. Protesters carried white cut outs of each of the birds, which they called 'ghost raptors'. Raptors is another name for birds of prey.
Various organisations including Police Scotland, RSPB Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage have been involved in the investigation to find the person or group who are poisoning the birds. A large reward is being offered to anyone with information that leads to a prosecution.
There are concerns that the death of the birds may affect tourism in Scotland. A spokesman for Scottish Natural Heritage, Ian Ross, told STV
"Nature tourism is worth £1.4bn a year to Scotland’s economy and it’s clear that acts like this detract from that value and diminish Scotland’s appeal as a major wildlife tourism destination."
Farmers and land owners in the area have joined in with the protest and have contributed towards the reward. A spokesman for the National Farmers Union in the Highlands, Jim Whiteford said:
"This is a horrifying and disgusting incident where 19 birds of prey have been killed. I hope that those who are responsible are found and prosecuted. I am heartened by the news that a group of farmers and land owners, many of which are NFU Scotland members, around the Conon Bridge area have been able to add a generous donation towards the conviction of whoever has done this horrific deed."
Red Kites are beautiful birds of prey with a distinctive chestnut red plumage and a forked tale. By the end of the nineteenth century, Red Kites had been exterminated in Scotland as land owners with grouse shooting estates believed the birds to be a danger to their livelihood. The birds managed to hang on in Wales and its through the Welsh birds plus the introduction of birds from Europe that the Red Kite population has managed to recover to a degree. Special breeding centres and conservation areas have been set up to encourage the bird back from the brink of extinction. In 2012, there were 214 breeding pairs in Scotland.
It is to be hoped that the person or group responsible for the death of the birds of prey is found quickly.
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