The Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group (NIRSG) has reported the discovery of a dead peregrine at a known persecution hotspot in Glenwherry, Co. Antrim.
In 2012, a recently fledged peregrine was found dead underneath the nest cliff. It had been shot (see here).
The latest dead peregrine (part of a breeding pair) was discovered on Monday 11th April 2016. The bird has been sent for post mortem as it is strongly suspected it has been illegally killed.
Dr Marc Ruddock from the NIRSG, who has monitored peregrines in this area for over a decade, said: “It is deeply frustrating to think that someone might have gone out of their way to target this bird if the post mortem confirms an illegal act. In 2014 there were only 57 successful breeding peregrines across the whole of Northern Ireland. The loss of a breeding adult has the potential to lead to desertion of a historical breeding site and widespread persecution could result in serious implications for the viability of the Northern Ireland population of peregrines.
NIRSG volunteers will be increasing surveillance and monitoring at peregrine sites across the country immediately in order to protect nesting sites at this time of year and will report any suspicious activity to the Police Service of Northern Ireland. I would urge the public to be vigilant and also report any suspicious activity or vehicles in the vicinity of cliffs or quarries immediately to PSNI”.
Dr Eimear Rooney, NIRSG representative on the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime (PAW), said: “Disappointingly our fieldworkers detect incidents of raptor crime each year, particularly of peregrines, red kites and buzzards being poisoned or shot. Wildlife crime incidents, particularly where they occur in remote locations, can often go unreported. PAW is working hard to raise awareness both of the law and the protection it affords birds of prey. However, there are clearly still those individuals who are determined to kill birds of prey“.
In March this year, the PSNI and PAW group launched Operation Raptor, a multi-agency initiative aimed at targeting those who continue to kill birds of prey (see here).