Editor’s comment: The national shame for our county

One of the four Red Kites to be released onto the Harewood Estate today tests its wings for the first time.  July 15, 2002.
One of the four Red Kites to be released onto the Harewood Estate today tests its wings for the first time. July 15, 2002.

It beggars belief that North Yorkshire has seen the worst decline of some birds of prey in the whole of the country.

It is a cause of huge shame that in this county birds like the beautiful hen harrier have been driven almost to extinction by illegal shooting, poisoning and trapping. The glorious red kite, reintroduced at Harewood more than a decade ago is also the subject of persecution. Since 2009, 21 red kites have been poisoned.

The finger of blame points towards the shooting industry and the gamekeepers who work within it.

But the vast majority of shooting estate owners and keepers enjoy the sight of these birds and appreciate the diversity of wildlife as much as the rest of us. They have no desire to see these birds wiped out.

This problem stems from a few small-minded people who think they have the God-given right to drive these birds to extinction.

But the shooting industry in North Yorkshire can influence this problem more than anyone, and it needs a collective and more robust approach to driving out the rogues.