More than 50 peregrine falcons have been poisoned, trapped, shot or had their chicks stolen this year, according to reports, in one of the worst years on record for persecution of the protected bird.
More than 50 peregrine falcons have been found poisoned, trapped or shot this year – RSPB
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) have received 50 reports of birds found shot, trapped, poisoned or had their chicks stolen already this year, with more cases waiting to be processed. Last year just 79 birds were reported in the whole year.
The findings include a female peregrine and her chick in Sunderland found next to the body of pigeon that police suspect was poisoned bait. A racing pigeon in Walsall was found with a pill capsule taped to its leg that wildlife crime officers believe was designed to poison any bird of prey that killed the pigeon.
Peregrine falcons were also found “peppered” with shot in the Forest of Dean and a bird crash landed in a back garden near Litchfield in Staffordshire with its leg caught in a spring trap.
All five chicks were stolen from a peregrine nest site near Mansfield within a week of them hatching. It is the fourth year in a row the nest has failed, according to the RSPB.
Mark Thomas, RSPB Investigations Officer, urged the Government to add peregrines to its list of priority species for wildlife crime enforcement.
“These crimes are cruel, needless and selfish. That they happen at all in the 21st Century is a disgrace. Peregrines have taken 30 years to recover from the devastating effects of pesticide poisoning and still we find them targeted by people who hold a grudge against them,” he said.
“This has included rogue elements within the pigeon racing and game shooting communities, who blame them for the loss of their birds. Then there are those crooked individuals intent on taking eggs and chicks for falconry.
“The Government recently made the persecution of birds of prey one of the UK’s wildlife crime priorities, with emphasis on five key species. We believe peregrines should now be added to that list.”