POLICE are investigating the deaths of five red kites in the North-East.

The deaths in the Northumberland area span a period of seven months and appear to be the results of poisoning.

Red Kites were found dead in a remote area to the south of Hexham on February 12. On June 9 another was found dead near Whittonstall and then the partner to this bird was found dead on July 18 not far away at Hindley.

The fifth bird was found on August 4 near Rowlands Gill - this was a juvenile and again results of tests are awaited.

It is believed that the pair found at Whittonstall and Hindley had young and as a result it is more than likely that at least one red kite chick has also died.

Northumbria police wildlife co-ordinator Don Churchill said: "While these red kites may not have been deliberately targeted it is clear that unlawful use of poisons was involved.

"Red kites eat carrion and it is likely these birds fed on carcasses laced with poison left out in the open, targeting pests.

"The uncontrolled and indiscriminate use of poison leads to the deaths of all types of animals from domestic pets to protected wildlife species."

Anyone with information about the deaths or who sees anything suspicious should contact Northumbria Police on 03456-043-043 or the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme on 0800-321-600.