THE RSPB has offered a £1,000 reward for information after two rare birds of prey were found poisoned.
Toxicological tests on two red kites found dead in the Hexton area showed they had been poisoned with a highly-toxic banned pesticide.
It is suspected both birds had been feeding on carrion placed in the countryside and illegally laced with the chemical.
Last week, police officers from Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, in conjunction with officers from Natural England, the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) and RSPB, conducted a search in the area, including a number of outbuildings.
A number of samples were taken and will be submitted for further toxicological tests.
The first bird was found close to a public footpath just south of Hexton in January, by a woman and her daughter.
The second bird was found hanging in a bush at the Pegsdon Hills Nature Reserve, less than a mile away.
Sgt Jamie Bartlett, rural wildlife and environmental crimes officer for Hertfordshire Police, said: ‘We are appealing to anybody who may have more information about the deaths of these birds.
“The use of poison in these circumstances is highly irresponsible and indiscriminate. The pesticide used is highly toxic and the potential for injury to members of the public or their pets could have been high.”
Red kites were saved from national extinction by one of the world’s longest running protection programmes, and have now been successfully re-introduced to England and Scotland
Guy Shorrock, investigations officer with the RSPB, added: “The reintroduction of red kites has been a fantastic success story and the expansion of the population into Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire has allowed more people to see these amazing birds.
“Unfortunately, every year we get tragic incidents like this.
“Illegally placing poison in the countryside puts wildlife, domestic animals and potentially members of the public at risk.
“We would urge anyone with information about this or other wildlife crime to contact the police.”
Anyone with any information should contact Sgt Bartlett on the non-emergency number 101, or Crimestoppers 0800 555111.