Police have helped rescue three Red Kite birds in the Katesbridge area, which are suspected to have been poisoned.
On June 3 a member of the public reported concerns about a possible poisoning incident to Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) who subsequently contacted local police to request their assistance with recovering the birds.
Officers accompanied the PSNI Wildlife Officer and representatives joined with the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group (NIRSG) and (RSPB) to recover the birds.
A Red Kite adult female and two chicks were found dead and recovered from a tree.
Sergeant Pollock, Banbridge Response, said: “We need the public’s support to help us safeguard these birds and other animals which are protected under the Wildlife (NI) order 1985.
“Red Kites are a protected species.
“Four years ago the RSPB released 80 of these birds in Northern Ireland as part of a reintroduction initiative.
“It is believed that there are currently 60 Red Kites in the province and many of them are nesting in the South Down area.
“There have been a number of incidents over the past few weeks involving birds believed to be poisoned.
“Raptor persecution is illegal under the Wildlife (NI) Order. “I am appealing to any member of the public who suspects a wildlife crime is taking place to report it by phoning us on the 101 non-emergency number.”
Adam McClure, Red Kite Officer for the RSPB, said: “While we can’t say for certain until we have the results of the post-mortem, we strongly suspect that this bird and her chicks fell victim to poisoning.
“All birds of prey are protected under the law, but unfortunately this doesn’t always mean that they are safe from poison.
They are vulnerable to poisoned bait left out with the intention of controlling foxes and crows.
“However, this is an illegal practice as it is indiscriminate and can affect not only scavenging birds like red kites, but also pets, live stock and humans.”
If you believe you have witnessed wildlife crime, follow this advice:
Do not put yourself at risk. Take careful note of exactly what is happening and report it to police as soon as possible.
Do report all suspected wildlife crime to PSNI on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.