Police have launched an investigation after a red kite was killed in what officers are describing as a “shocking act of cruelty.”
The bird was found injured by a walker found on farmland near Nidd, Harrogate, on Saturday, and was taken to a vet but its wing was so severely damaged that it had to be put down.
X-rays confirmed that it had been shot with a shotgun.
It is believed the bird had been shot while in flight, and had survived, unable to fly, for up to two days, before it was found.
PC Gareth Jones, wildlife crime co-ordinator at North Yorkshire Police, said: “It has taken many years to re-introduce red kites after their extinction from the UK by persecution.
“People in Harrogate have become used to seeing red kites soaring above the town, and will be shocked by this meaningless and cruel act.
“Red kites are majestic birds that mainly feed on carrion and pose no threat to game birds, farmed animals or pets.
“I would ask members of the public who were in the areas of Nidd, Brearton and Scotton on Thursday or Friday last week to contact North Yorkshire Police if they have any information.”