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Shot peregrine found dead at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust headquarters

Monday 2nd March 2015

X-ray of peregrine found at Belper's East MillX-ray of peregrine found at Belper's East Mill

A male peregrine falcon has been shot and found dead outside Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s offices at East Mill in Belper, Derbyshire.

A local photographer found the dead peregrine and alerted Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, who took the corpse to a vet. They x-rayed the bird and discovered the shot lodged in its shoulder. Further expert veterinary analysis confirmed that this was a very recent shooting which was likely to be linked to its death.

Tim Birch, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s Head of Advocacy and Conservation Strategy, said, “We have all been shocked at the Trust by the shooting of the male peregrine at our headquarters in Belper. To have a wildlife crime happening right on our doorstep is both alarming and upsetting. Many people from Belper, and indeed from around the whole region, have been thrilled to watch Peregrines around the mill where we work. We feel very privileged to have these birds living alongside us. We strongly condemn the shooting of this bird.”

On discovering the shot in the bird, the Trust immediately reported the death as a wildlife crime and has worked closely with the police on the matter. Darren Belfield, who is working on the case for Derbyshire Constabulary said, “Birds of prey, such as the peregrine falcon, are fully protected by legislation which makes it an offence to deliberately kill or injure them. The perpetrators of this cruel and deliberate act have shown a clear disregard for the law surrounding this species.”

Unfortunately, the persecution of birds of prey is widespread. Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has been working closely with organisations such as RSPB and Derbyshire Constabulary to reduce this type of crime. But despite the efforts of organisations across the country, the RSPB, reports “There have been at least 54 confirmed illegally persecuted peregrines in the past six years across the UK.” The Trust wants to see greater protection for peregrines and other birds of prey in Derbyshire. In the north of the county in areas of the Peak District National Park peregrines are still largely absent from traditional nesting territories due to ongoing illegal persecution.

Since the death of the peregrine, a new male has flown in from Dorset and taken up residence with the female at East Mill and has been seen mating with her. This should be something to celebrate but at the moment the Trust is concerned for its safety.

Derbyshire Constabulary are appealing for anyone with information regarding this incident to come forward and any information will be dealt with in the strictest confidence. The bird was found dead on 17th January and the RSPB are offering a reward of £1000 for any information. Reports of wildlife crime are taken very seriously. If anyone has any information relating to this incident or any form of wildlife crime please contact the police immediately or via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


Peregrine photo, Peregrine at East Mill, Belper, Robert Booth

Press enquiries: contact Kaite Helps at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust on 01773 881188.