Long Melford: RSPB offer £1,000 reward for information about illegal shooting of a young peregrine falcon
PUBLISHED: 13:13 09 September 2014 | UPDATED: 13:13 09 September 2014
Police officers and the RSPB are investigating the “appalling” illegal shooting of a young peregrine falcon – a bird that experts think may have secured a coveted place in the annals of Suffolk ornithology just weeks before being blasted from the sky.
After being peppered by gunshot and suffering a broken wing, the bird is being cared for at a falconry centre with the aim of returning it to the wild when its recovery is complete.
It was discovered near Long Melford and the RSPB is offering a £1,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in relation to the shooting.
Ornithologists think the bird may have been raised by a pair of peregrines in Bury St Edmunds – the first breeding record of the species in west Suffolk in modern times, and possibly the first time the species has ever nested in the area.
Keen naturalist Darren Underwood made the grim discovery of the wounded bird with a fellow Long Melford resident while walking on a public footpath near the village on August 20 and described the shooting as an “appalling crime”.
Mr Underwood, of Cordell Road, said: “A local resident alerted me to a bird of prey that appeared to be injured. I was surprised to find that it was a juvenile peregrine falcon.
“It was very approachable and I assumed it had perhaps accidentally flown into the fence and was stunned.
“There were no obvious external injuries and with the resident’s help I put the bird in a box and contacted the Mulberry Court Veterinary Surgery in Sudbury. They were excellent and very caring and when they took an X-ray of one of the bird’s wings they found it had several pieces of lead shot in it.
“It had been shot with a shotgun. People are quite rightly appalled and disgusted by the illegal shooting of birds in places such as Malta and Cyprus, but the fact that such crimes are taking place right here at home is equally disgraceful.”
As the RSPB announced its offer of a £1,000 reward to anyone providing information that leads to a conviction in relation to the shooting, the charity’s investigations officer Mark Thomas said: “This bird has only recently left its nest and has already been shot, presumably by a person who intended to kill it.
“Whilst it is good news that the bird has survived, it is unknown if the bird will make a full recovery.”
The wounded peregrine is being cared for by Lavenham Falconry at nearby Monks Eleigh.
Owner Steve Younge said: “It is doing very well. We have kept it hooded to keep it calm. It is eating very well and in the next two or three weeks we will try to build up its strength and fitness and we will see where we go from there but the hope is to return it to its rightful place in the wild.”
Suffolk police confirmed the shooting is being investigated.
Anyone who may have information should contact wildlife crimes officer Pc Mark Bryant on 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Alternatively they can call the RSPB’s investigations team on 01767 680551.