Endangered red kite 'deliberately' shot dead in Down
An endangered red kite has been shot dead in Co Down.
The bird was found in a public laneway near Moneyslane last week, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said.
The kite, which was born in May, had a suspected gun shot in its body.
Alan Ferguson from the RSPB said: "Any loss of these under-threat birds is utterly heartbreaking.
"Our red kite population in Northern Ireland is small at just 20 breeding pairs and that makes it particularly vulnerable to losses.
"It would appear that someone has deliberately targeted one of these beautiful creatures, so this is incredibly frustrating and upsetting and is a real setback for the future of the species here.
"RSPB NI have been working on a red kite reintroduction programme for nine years.
"I really thought we were turning a corner, because persecution incidents seemed to be dropping off and the last confirmed shooting of a red kite happened in Crossgar in 2014.
"People have really taken the birds to heart and are happy to see them in our skies again."
PSNI wildlife officer Emma Meredith said: "The PSNI take all reports of wildlife crime seriously. If anyone has information about the death of this protected bird then we would be really keen to hear from you."