Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Feeding red kites leads to attacks

PEOPLE in Watlington are being urged to stop feeding red kites to prevent attacks on humans.

Conservationists say the practice encourages the birds to snatch food from people who are eating outdoors, sometimes causing injury.

Ian Hill, chairman of the parish council, told Watlington’s annual parish meeting that there had been an increase in such incidents.

He said: “We all like the kites but they are getting to be a hazard, particularly for children. They are now habituated to assuming humans are going to give them food.

“Several people have ended up with scratched hands. We can’t let this carry on, we have to do something about it.

“They’ll stay in town and not go out and hunt in the countryside. We don’t want them to be domesticated birds who pick up scraps in town and nothing else.”

The Chilterns Conservation Board urges people to gradually reduce the amount of food they give red kites and the frequency and eventually cease altogether.

This phased approach will allow the birds to spread out into the wider countryside to find alternative sources of food.

Since red kites were introduced to the Chilterns nearly 30 years ago the population has risen dramatically.

In the early years the birds were very wary of people but over the years more and more people have encouraged them into their gardens with food.

As a results, kites have come to expect food from people and have become much bolder around us, causing an increase in “unwelcome interactions”.

The board says the birds are unable to differentiate between food that is deliberately being offered to them and food that is being consumed outdoors by people.

The volume of supplementary food being offered to kites may now be at such a level in parts of the Chilterns that it is encouraging them to breed at unsustainable levels in areas that would otherwise not be able to support them.

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