The low expansion rate of the red kite population of north Scotland was blamed on illegal killing following the publication of an RSPB Scotland study into the species last week in the scientific journal Biological Conservation.

The study, funded by Scottish Natural Heritage, compared the performance of the red kite populations in the Chiltern Hills in Buckinghamshire with those on the Black Isle in Ross-shire. According to the study, the population in the Chilterns has reached approximately 320 breeding pairs since they were first introduced in 1989, while the Black Isle population has reached 41 pairs in the same period.

The RSPB’s study discounted a lack of food supply and poor breeding performance as explanations for the poor growth rate of the Scottish Black Isle population, while low survival rates of young birds in their first and second years of life was cited as the main factor limiting the north Scotland red kite population growth up until 2006, with illegal killing accounting almost entirely for these poor survival prospects.

The rest of this article appears in 28th April issue of Shooting Times.

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