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More evidence of the ongoing persecution of birds of prey has emerged with the discovery of a wounded bird in East Sussex
A protected peregrine falcon has been found shot in Ninfield, East Sussex, sparking an investigation by police and the RSPB.
The bird – a female – was discovered alive but injured by woods at Lunsford Cross on 10 May, and staff from East Sussex Wildlife Animal Rescue were called to recover the bird. An X-ray revealed a recent fracture to its right wing consistent with a shot injury. While undergoing examination, a further three shot gun pellets were discovered: two in the bird’s stomach and one in its left wing. These were considered historic and the vet concluded that the bird had also been shot at an earlier date.
The peregrine has undergone surgery and is recovering at the rescue centre.
Peregrines are capable of reaching speeds of 240mph, making them the fastest animals in the world. They are protected by UK law, and anyone found guilty of harming or killing a peregrine could face a fine of £5,000 and jail.
Daryl Holter, Wildlife and Heritage Officer for Sussex Police, has urged anyone with information about the incident to come forward.
He said: "Peregrine falcons are a protected species under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. It is an offence to intentionally take, injure or kill a peregrine. To shoot it in this way was a vile and senseless act. Had the injured bird not been found it would almost certainly have faced a lingering death, possibly through starvation."
Chris Riddington from East Sussex Wildlife Rescue said: “The bird is incredibly lucky to have been found and we are liaising with experts with regards to its care. It is still uncertain whether the fracture will heal, but our vets are happy with its progress.
“It’s hard to believe anyone would shoot a bird – but this is becoming far too common in today’s society. These birds are shot and left to suffer and we have to pick up the pieces.”
Jenny Shelton, RSPB investigations liaison officer, said: “It is appalling to hear that someone has shot a peregrine falcon – a bird which is already of conservation concern in the UK. Peregrines are magnificent, agile birds and will be breeding at this time of year, so taking out this young female may impact her chances of producing young this year.
“This incident is part of an ongoing problem with raptor persecution in the UK. This is the fifth report of a peregrine with shotgun wounds we have received already this year, but as yet no-one has been brought to account. This, as most people would agree, is simply not acceptable.”
If you have any information relating to this incident, email East Sussex Police on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 101, quoting serial 420 of 19/05. Alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 (www.crimestoppers-uk.org).
If you find a wild bird which you suspect has been illegally killed or harmed, contact police or RSPB investigations on 01767 680551, or fill in the online form
A peregrine falcon, which hatched at Salisbury Cathedral in 2014, is being released back into the wild after it was found shot and wounded.
On 11 March 2017, the bird was found injured in King Somborne, Hampshire. It was taken to the Hawk Conservancy Trust in Andover where it was examined by a vet who confirmed that the bird had a fractured wing, caused by shooting. It remained at the Trust’s bird of prey hospital for several weeks where it was given food, exercise and helped back to full fitness. The bird will be released on Tuesday 23rd May.
Peregrine falcons are the fastest birds in the world, able to reach speeds of over 200mph when diving for prey. Like all birds of prey, they are protected by law making it a criminal offence to kill or harm them. There are thought to be around 1,500 pairs in the UK – many of which now live in urban areas where tall buildings like cathedrals make ideal vantage points and nesting sites.
A blue ring on the bird’s leg, marked ‘GX’, revealed that the bird had hatched at Salisbury Cathedral in 2014 and is known locally as ‘Peter’. He was one of the first chicks to hatch at the cathedral for over 60 years.
Jenny Shelton, RSPB, says: “We are glad to report that, after some R&R at the Hawk Conservancy Trust, Peter has made a full recovery and is ready to be released back into the wild.
“Peregrine falcons are incredible thunderbolts of evolution and most of us are privileged when one chooses to live amongst us. But sadly there are people who will shoot or poison birds of prey. We don’t know who shot Peter, but urge anyone with information to come forward.
“Sadly, this story is part of a much larger problem UK-wide regarding the illegal killing of birds of prey which is putting some species at risk of extinction. Peregrines have been driven to colonise urban areas in some areas of the UK because they are being persecuted in their natural habitats. It is worrying to hear of birds now being targeted in urban areas, we only hope that Peter isn’t targeted again once he is released.”
The RSPB is offering a reward of £1,000 for information relating to this case which leads to a conviction. If you have any information relating to this case, call Hampshire police on 101.
If you find a wild bird which you suspect has been illegally killed, contact RSPB investigations on 01767 680551 or fill in the online form
A number of our supporters have raised concerns about the potential impact on nesting birds during the Brighton Festival installation ‘For the birds’ which takes place in woodland in Brighton in evenings in May.
The concerns centre around the possibility that the piece could impact on nesting birds, which are protected under law during the breeding season. The RSPB is keen to see that organisers of any outdoor event of this type carry out suitable environmental assessments to ensure that the activity does not cause harm to species. We have made the festival organisers and Brighton & Hove City Council aware of the public’s concerns, and they informed us that they are were looking into these issues. Please check the Brighton Festival website for any updates surrounding this matter.
The RSPB has had no involvement in this Brighton Festival event. A similar installation by the same artist was originally installed on at RSPB Ynys-hir nature reserve, in Wales, and the RSPB gave permission for the installation to take place during October, out of the bird nesting season, so that it could engage visitors without having an impact on nesting birds. Prior to the event at RSPB Ynys-hir, the RSPB carried out environmental impact assessments, and engaged with Natural Resources Wales who carried out a full site survey and approved the four day installation. We would expect any replication of the original event to have undergone similar assessments and take into account considerations for wildlife.
The RSPB quote used by the Brighton Festival relates to the RSPB Ynys-hir event.