A protected peregrine falcon has been found shot in Ninfield, sparking an investigation by police and the RSPB.
The bird – a female – was discovered alive but injured by woods at Lunsford Cross on May 10, 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 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: https://www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/our-positions-and-campaigns/positions/wildbirdslaw/reportform.aspx.
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