Posts Tagged ‘peregrine


Police attend suspected peregrine shooting near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

Yesterday, Thames Valley Police (Aylesbury Vale) posted this on Facebook:

I haven’t been able to find any follow-up information, e.g. whether the peregrine was x-rayed to confirm/rule out shooting and there isn’t an incident number or an appeal for information on the Thames Valley Police website.

Meanwhile, the local press are reporting this as a confirmed shooting. Eg. see this headline from the Bucks Free Press:

Wouldn’t it be good if there was a national standard on how to report suspected raptor persecution crimes, that every police force could follow? And a central location where these verified reports could be found?


Police lead multi-agency search after suspected peregrine poisoning in Shropshire

A multi-agency search took place in Shropshire yesterday as part of the ongoing investigation in to the suspected poisoning of a peregrine earlier this year.

You may recall the very prompt appeal for information made by West Mercia Police in May (see here) after the corpse of a female peregrine had been found, along with a suspected pigeon bait, at the notorious raptor persecution blackspot of Clee Hill.

[This is a photograph of another peregrine found poisoned at this site in 2017 (see here). Photo by RSPB]

Toxicology results are apparently still pending on this latest case but given the long history of poisoned peregrines at this site, and the discovery of yet another baited pigeon, it’s more than likely that this latest peregrine victim had also been illegally poisoned.

No doubt this is what prompted the police-led search at a premises yesterday, assisted by experts from Natural England, the National Wildlife Crime Unit and the RSPB Investigations team. The investigation continues.

[Photo via West Mercia Police]

This is at least the 5th multi-agency search in England this year, all in response to raptor persecution crimes. On 15th March 2021 there was a raid in Lincolnshire (see here), on 18th March a raid in Dorset (here), on 26th March a raid in Devon (see here) and on 21st April a raid in Teesdale (here). And now this raid in Shropshire.

Worryingly, all of these cases have involved the confirmed / suspected use of banned poisons to kill birds of prey.

Well done to all the agencies involved in these follow-up investigations. It’s good to see genuine partnership-working in the fight to catch the raptor killers.


Peregrine found shot & critically injured in Fife

Press release from the Scottish SPCA (2nd August 2021)

Peregrine falcon shot near Kirkcaldy

We are appealing for information after a peregrine falcon was shot near Kirkcaldy.

We were alerted to the incident after the female bird was discovered on farmland at Grange Farm near Kirkcaldy on 25 July.

The falcon was unable to fly and was transferred to the Society’s National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Fishcross where x-rays uncovered she had been shot.

[Photos and x-rays by Liam Reed]

An undercover Scottish SPCA special investigations unit inspector said, “We were shocked to hear that the peregrine falcon had been shot.

This poor bird was extremely lucky to be spotted by the farm worker, who took immediate steps to ensure the falcon’s welfare and survival.

The shot would have knocked the bird out of the sky almost instantaneously so the incident will have happened close to the farmland the bird was found on.

Thankfully, due to the expert avian vets we have at our national wildlife hospital, the falcon has a good chance at recovery and release back in to the wild.

Peregrine falcons are a Schedule One listed species of The Wildlife and Countryside Act and it is illegal to intentionally harm or kill one of these birds.

We are working closely with Police Scotland to establish the circumstances around the bird’s injuries due to the use of a firearm in the incident.

We would like to find out what happened to this falcon. If anyone witnessed anything on the 25 July or has any information they feel may be relevant they can contact our confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999 or Police Scotland on 101, quoting incident number quoting incident number 1390 of 28 July 2021.”

Wildlife Crime Liaison Officer, Detective Constable Ben Pacholek, said: “The fact that a shotgun has apparently been used in an attempt to kill a bird of prey is of serious concern. This incident is sadly another example of the unacceptable persecution of raptors in Scotland.

I strongly urge anyone within the local and wider community to come forward with details or any information about this incident which can help the ongoing investigation.”

If anyone is concerned about an animal, please do not hesitate to contact our confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999.


You can see on the x-ray that the peregrine’s ulna has been broken by the shotgun pellets. This is a clear indication the bird was shot close to where it was found – there’s no way this bird would have been able to fly with an injury that severe:

Well done to the Scottish SPCA for getting this appeal for information out so quickly. This should be the very least we expect from investigating authorities but as many of you will know, it doesn’t happen as often as it should.

Standby for news of another case involving a shot peregrine that Police Scotland has refused to publicise…….


Police searches as peregrine confirmed illegally poisoned with Carbofuran

Back in March this year there were reports that two dead peregrines had been found underneath the iconic Samson & Goliath cranes in Belfast. Experts from the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group suspected the birds had been poisoned but there was also a potential issue with Avian Flu in the area which hadn’t been ruled out.

[One of the poisoned peregrines. Photo by the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group]

Fast forward four months and an article has appeared today on the Farming Life website as follows:

Police confirm peregrine falcon poisoned

Police have confirmed that a bird of prey found dead in the Queens Island area of Belfast earlier this year was poisoned.

It was reported in March that a Peregrine Falcon was found dead. The bird was retrieved and underwent testing to ascertain the exact circumstances. Enquiries have been ongoing. Today (July 28th), officers, accompanied by colleagues from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), carried out searches at two premises.

Con. Phelan said: “We can now confirm the Peregrine Falcon was poisoned with Aldicarb and Carbofuran. This is very concerning. These are dangerous substances. We would remind the public if there is a suspicion of poisoning on any bird of prey to leave the bird/s and/or bait in situ and call the PSNI as soon as possible.”

PSNI Wildlife Liaison Officer, Emma Meredith, said: “We have been working with our partner, NIEA, and our enquiries are ongoing. If anyone has information then we would be really keen to hear from you.”

Anyone with information can contact police on the non-emergency number 101 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


There seems to be some confusion here about whether it was one or two peregrines poisoned, but nevertheless, the detection of Aldicarb and Carbofuran in at least one peregrine is a clear indication of criminal activity.

Presumably the police didn’t release the toxicology results until today as they’d have wanted to undertake their searches without alerting any potential suspects, just in case those poisons were still on the premises.

Peregrines have long been persecuted in Northern Ireland, mostly linked to pigeon racing rather than gamekeeping, and the species has suffered population decline as a result (see here). Undertaking searches is a big step forward there so today’s searches are a very welcome move by the police and their partners at the NIEA.

Hopefully there’ll be some progress that’ll lead to a prosecution in this case. The illegal poisoning of any raptor in this day and age is an outrage, but to do this so close to Belfast city centre, with such dangerous poisons, is reckless beyond belief.


Shot peregrine successfully rehabbed and released back to wild

In May this year an eight-year-old female peregrine was found injured in the grounds of Selby Abbey suffering from being shot with a shotgun (see here).

North Yorkshire Police appealed for information and the peregrine was treated by specialist vets at Battle Flatts before being taken in to the expert care of the remarkable Jean Thorpe at Ryedale Wildlife Rescue.

One month on, the peregrine has recovered and has been successfully released back in to the wild at the Lower Derwent Valley National Nature Reserve:

Massive kudos and thanks to Jean and to the vets at Battle Flatts who are dealing with these victims time and time again. Some of the birds’ injuries are too severe for any hope of recovery but every now and then this dedicated team gets a win, like this one. All credit to them.

North Yorkshire Police are still investigating the circumstances of this latest crime (injured peregrine found 7th May 2021). If you have any information about this incident please call North Yorkshire Police on 101 quoting ref: 12210119786, or if you wish to remain anonymous please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


Peregrine nest raided in Peak District National Park

Press release from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (21 June 2021)

Peregrine nest raided in Upper Derwent Valley, Peak District

A nest with 3 young peregrines in it has been robbed in a remote part of the Peak District National Park on land owned by the Forestry Commission.

This is despite efforts by a number of organisations to step up their protection efforts at Peregrine nesting sites at risk across the Peak District this Spring.

Peregrines, along with their eggs and nests, are legally protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. It is a criminal offence to intentionally or recklessly kill, injure or take a peregrine.

Derbyshire Rural Crime Team are investigating this crime and are appealing to anyone who has any information to contact them on 101 or to use Crimestoppers.

[Photo from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust]

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and partners are shocked that one of our most iconic birds are still being targeted in this way by wildlife criminals.

Peregrines are an iconic part of the Peak District’s natural heritage and the theft of young peregrines jeopardises the recovery of this much persecuted species.

Tim Birch at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust said: “It is very sad that a peregrine nest with 3 young peregrines have been robbed. We all lose when this happens. Thousands of people visit the Peak District National Park every year to walk in stunning scenery and have the opportunity to watch these magnificent birds in the wild. Robbing this nest deprives people from being able to have the chance to see such a wonderful bird. We need to see tougher sentences that reflect the seriousness of this crime and to act as a deterrent.”

Mark Thomas, RSPB Head of Investigations UK, said: “Scientific data and crime reports show that raptor persecution is endemic in the Peak District National Park, particularly impacting iconic species like peregrine and goshawk: this is despite both the species and landscape having the fullest legal protection in the UK. These crimes have been statistically linked to land managed for driven grouse shooting. Furthermore, the site in question has suffered repeat incidents of raptor persecution on many previous occasions and only recently an adult peregrine was found poisoned close by. More has to be done as it is clear the initiatives in place are failing.”

Shona Morton, Planning and Environment Manager for the Forestry Commission said: “Forestry England’s woods are home to a wealth of important birdlife, including many birds of prey. Our ecologists and operational teams work hard to create and restore wildlife habitats and ensure birds nesting on our land are safeguarded during forestry activities. We are very upset to learn that this Peregrine pair have been robbed of their young on our land. We work closely with local volunteer groups and conservationists to locate new nests each year and monitor breeding success- crimes like this undermine everything we’re trying to achieve together. Sadly the Peak District remains a hot spot for raptor persecution and we would encourage anyone who sees suspicious activity on the public forest estate to alert us and contact the police. We will be collaborating with the police and our partners to identify and prosecute those responsible. We will continue our work with partners and neighbouring landowners to ensure birds of prey like Peregrines, Goshawk and Hen Harriers can regain their rightful place in the Peak District’s skies.”

The loss of these young birds is a huge blow to the work that is currently being undertaken to try and protect peregrines and ensure that they are allowed to prosper in the Peak District. In 2020 an adult male peregrine was found dead very close to the site that was recently robbed. Tests later proved that the bird had been poisoned. In 2019 young peregrines also disappeared from this site. Other nests are still being monitored across the Peak District at the moment to assess how Peregrines have fared this breeding season but numbers of breeding pairs in line with other years are far lower than expected from information already gathered.



Suffolk Police warn public to be vigilant for peregrine egg thieves

Article from Stowmarket Mercury (May 25th 2021)

Thieves will go to ‘extreme lengths’ to steal rare birds’ eggs, police warn

By Michael Steward

The theft of rare birds’ eggs is still a problem in Suffolk and wildlife enthusiasts are being urged to stay vigilant to any suspicious behaviour. 

Although the crime is rare, egg thieves will travel the country to target rare species, according to Suffolk police. 

The peregrine is a particularly targeted bird for nest robberies, and is prized by both egg collectors and illegal falconers.  

It is believed that peregrine eggs can fetch up to £70,000 in the Middle East. 

[Peregrine nest in Yorkshire, photo by Glenn Kilpatrick]

Sergeant Brian Calver, from Suffolk police’s rural crime team, said thieves will go to “extreme lengths” to get their hands on prized eggs. 

He said: “It’s very rare these days for people to want to collect them but there are still a few hardcore people out there who have got an obsession and take them for their own collections and to swap among their close circles.

But also, further up the scale, you have got those who will take them for financial gain and that’s normally around raptors

Specifically things like peregrines because in the Middle East you’ve got people out there who will pay a vast amount of money for a wild peregrine

So there are egg thieves who will go to extreme lengths to get them and smuggle them out of the country to trade in the Middle East where it’s almost like gold within an egg shell. They are worth an awful lot of money.

Those people are rare but they are willing to travel the country to target certain species.”

Operation Easter, which runs across the UK throughout the bird nesting season, targets egg thieves and allows intelligence to be shared with police forces. 

Sgt Calver said Suffolk has seen incidents in recent years and urged the county’s birdwatching community to stay vigilant. 

A couple of years ago now we had some stone curlew eggs go missing from the Cavenham nature reserve,” he said. 

So I would like to get a message out to the public and the birdwatching community to be vigilant to anyone who does look out of place or look suspicious

Those who are out there to steal, there will be something about their behaviour which will stand out and look suspicious. It is worth reporting

If they do take them, especially a bird which has got a very bespoke need in terms of its habitat, you’ve only got to take one year’s set of eggs and that can have a massive impact on the species numbers for the future.”



Police officer charged with alleged wildlife crime offences after multi-agency raid in Scotland

From an article in today’s Daily Record:

Scots cop charged after dawn raid uncovers ‘peregrine falcon eggs’ kept at rural home

Police Scotland have confirmed that a total of three people have been arrested and charged in connection with wildlife offences at a property in Berwick-upon-Tweed

By Sarah Vesty, reporter

[Peregrine falcon with chicks. Photo by Getty Images]

A serving Police Scotland officer has been charged in connection with alleged wildlife offences after an early-morning raid at her home.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is set to appear at Jedburgh Sheriff Court alongside two men, aged 45 and 20, on an undertaking next week.

Officers swooped on the rural property in Berwick-upon-Tweed on Tuesday, May 18, as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of serious organised crime.

Joined by the Scottish SPCA, they are understood to have seized a number of peregrine falcon eggs and chicks from the address.

Police Scotland have confirmed that three people have been arrested in connection with the recovery and that their “enquiries remain ongoing”.

A force spokesperson said: “Officers executed a warrant in the early hours of Tuesday, 18, May, at a property in Lamberton Holdings in Berwick-upon-Tweed in connection with an ongoing investigation.

Two men, aged 20 and 45 years, and a 43-year-old woman have been arrested and charged in connection with wildlife offences.

They are due to appear at Jedburgh Sheriff Court at a later date. Enquiries are continuing.”

A Scottish SPCA special investigations unit inspector, who cannot be named due to undercover operations, said: “We can confirm we assisted Police Scotland in relation to a warrant regarding wildlife offences at a property in Lamberton Holdings in Berwick-upon-Tweed.”

Peregrine falcons are protected under The Wildlife and Countryside Act meaning it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb them near or on an active nest.

The species has historically suffered from persecution and pesticide poisoning with their numbers dwindling to their lowest levels in the 1960s.

Scottish specimens of the bird – which can dive at more than 200mph – are highly prized in the Middle East where they are used for racing by wealthy sheikhs.

Stronger legislation has helped increase the number of falcons in the wild however they are still persecuted for preying on game birds and racing pigeons.

Their eggs have also previously been stolen to order for private collections and falconry.


Please note: as this is a live investigation and individuals have been charged I will not be accepting comments on this article until legal proceedings have ended. Thanks.


Peregrine found critically injured with shotgun injuries in North Yorkshire

Press statement from North Yorkshire Police (20th May 2021)

Police appeal for information after peregrine falcon found shot near Selby Abbey

On 7 May 2021, an 8 year old female peregrine falcon was discovered in the grounds of Selby Abbey with injuries which meant she was unable to fly.

[Photograph from North Yorkshire Police]

The peregrine was rescued and x-rayed by a local falconry specialist vet, Mark Naguib, who found a number of shotgun pellets throughout the bird’s body. The peregrine is ringed by the British Ornithology Trust so was able to be traced back to being released as a chick near Newark eight years ago.

The peregrine falcon is now in the expert care of local wildlife rehabilitator, Jean Thorpe, who will give her the best possible chance of making a recovery.

[X-ray from North Yorkshire Police]

North Yorkshire Police Constable Sarah Ward said:

“Peregrine falcons are a protected schedule one species and it is shocking that anyone would target one in this cruel and callous way.

“Our county should be a haven for birds of prey and this type of cruelty will not be tolerated.

“If anyone has information about this worrying incident please get in touch and report to us. You can either call 101 or if you wish to remain anonymous please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

RSPB Investigations Officer, Jack Ashton-Booth said:

“We are appalled at this deliberate and illegal attack on a protected peregrine falcon. The bird was riddled with shot, including one piece lodged in its head. Incredibly, it is still alive but it’s touch and go.

“We urge anyone with information to contact North Yorkshire Police immediately. Alternatively, if you wish to speak out in confidence, please don’t hesitate to call our Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101.

“Peregrines are incredibly good at adapting and are increasingly living alongside us in our towns and cities, and are a joy to see nesting on tall buildings like cathedrals. Nature is in trouble, and we must embrace it or risk losing it.”

If you have any information about this incident please call North Yorkshire Police on 101 quoting ref: 12210119786.


UPDATE 29th June 2021: Shot peregrine successfully rehabbed and released back to wild (here)


X-ray of injured peregrine reveals he had previously been shot

A peregrine falcon that suffered injury after colliding with a window was found to have previously been shot.

In a shoddy piece of reporting on the LeicestershireLive website, the RSPCA has apparently claimed the peregrine ‘died after it was shot with an airgun and the pellet became embedded in its wing’ and that they are now appealing for information about the ‘airgun thug’ responsible (see here).

However, if you look at the accompanying x-ray released by the RSPCA, there is what appears to be a pellet embedded in the bird’s right ulna but it doesn’t have the shape of an air gun pellet – it looks more like the spherical shape of a shotgun pellet (see red circle, added by RPUK).

The examining vet thought it was an old injury and you can see there aren’t any associated bone breaks with the pellet, whereas the peregrine has clearly fractured its left radius and there was damage to its neck, presumably caused by the window collision (see the yellow circles, added by RPUK).

The peregrine didn’t survive its injuries.

In what must be the most optimistic appeal for information ever, given that nobody knows when or where the peregrine had previously been shot, the RSPCA is appealing for information!

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