The RSPB and PSNI are appealing for information after the death of a red kite in the Cairncastle are.
The body of the young bird was discovered by walkers on Sunday. August 18 and is the fifth red kite found dead in Northern Ireland this year. It has since been recovered by the PSNI and submitted for a post-mortem and toxicology testing.
The conservation charity is now asking the public for help in uncovering the cause of the deaths, which represent 30 per cent of the breeding red kite population in the Province.
Adam McClure, Red Kite officer for the RSPB, said: “Sadly, this bird was only born in May this year and it is likely that its journey to Co. Antrim was one of its first flights out into the countryside.
“In a further cruel twist, it was the offspring of one of the birds found dead in Co Down, which means that not only have we lost a successful breeding male, we have also lost a potential future breeding bird.
“While we can’t say for certain until we have the results of the post-mortem, we strongly suspect that this bird, and potentially some of the others, has fallen 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.
“In some cases, they are deliberately targeted as some people incorrectly see them as a threat to livestock or game birds. They are also 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.”
There is also a chance that the bird could have died as a result of the misuse of rodenticides.
Red kites were persecuted to extinction in Ireland in the 18th century.
Anyone who suspects a crime and/or has information about the deaths of the birds is asked to contact police on 0845 600 8000 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Information on the safe use of rodenticides is available by calling RSPB NI on 028 9049 1547.