A NATIONAL wildlife charity has condemned the killing of a rare bird of prey in Hampshire.

A Red Kite was found dead on the border of the Winchester district and Test Valley - and lab tests showed the bird had been poisoned.

The RSPB described the killing of the bird, one of only 2,400 in the UK, as “totally unacceptable”.

Charity spokeswoman Hester Phillips said: “The persecution of birds of prey is totally unacceptable and a serious criminal offence.

“Killing birds of prey was made illegal 50 years ago, but a callous few are choosing to ignore the law.

“We are currently running a campaign to stamp out the illegal killing of all birds of prey, and would ask people who are appalled by such practices to add their name to our on-line pledge.

“By adding your voice to the campaign, you will be standing up for birds of prey - and letting those that kill them know society is watching them.”

Hampshire Constabulary’s country watch officers along with Natural England wildlife advisers found large quantities of non-approved pesticides during raids at three addresses in the county.

Country watch Sergeant Louise Hubble said: “The Red Kite is not common in this area and it is very unfortunate that this bird became a victim.

“It is illegal to lay poisoned bait. It is indiscriminate and poses a danger for humans and animals using the area.”

Anyone with information should contact the country watch team at Lyndhurst police station on 0845 045 4545 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.