The red kite was found by a walker on the evening of Friday, April 10, in the Carlton Moor area, close to Leeds Bradford Airport and the High Trees Garden Centre, in Otley Old Road.
He retrieved the dead bird and contacted Yorkshire Red Kites who, with support from the Harewood Estate, arranged for x-rays which showed the presence of at least 12 shotgun pellets, police said.
Officers from Leeds District Wildlife and Rural Crime Team are investigating the incident and would like to hear from anyone who witnessed anything suspicious in the area around the time.
They are also calling on the public to assist their work to combat offences against birds of prey by supporting the national Operation Owl initiative www.operationowl.com which helps people to recognise and report any suspicious activity and play their part in bringing those responsible for such crimes to justice.
Sergeant Dave Lund, West Yorkshire Police Force Wildlife Officer, said: “People will be understandably appalled that someone has shot and killed one of these majestic birds that are such welcome sight in our skies.
“We are investigating this incident and would like to hear from anyone who saw anything unusual in the area or who has any information that could assist in identifying the person responsible.
“We need the public to be our eyes and ears in support of our work to tackle wildlife crimes such as this and we would encourage anyone who does pick up on anything in their area to report it so we can take appropriate action alongside our partner agencies.”
Since their reintroduction into Yorkshire, starting in 1999, police said many kites have been shooting victims.
At least 13 are known to have died of their injuries whilst several others either recovered or had been victims of illegal poisoning but had been found to be carrying lead shot from non-fatal shooting incidents.
Doug Simpson, Yorkshire Red Kites Co-ordinator, said “It appears inevitable that we will continue to have a small number of people who persist in flouting the law which protects our wildlife. It once again raises the question of the suitability of some people to be licensed to own guns.
"This is not the first time that kites have been targeted at their nests – a particularly sickening and cowardly thing to do.
“Counting this latest victim, no fewer than 47 Red Kites have been confirmed as victims of illegal persecution since releases began in Yorkshire in 1999. That roughly half of them have been found by people out walking in the countryside shows the importance of everyone keeping their eyes open for anything untoward and reporting it.”
Anyone with information which could relate to this incident is asked to call West Yorkshire Police on 101 quoting crime reference 13200186201 or online via www.westyorkshire.police.uk/101livechat
Anyone wishing to remain anonymous can call the RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101.
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