Peregrine falcons nesting in south Tipperary have been deliberately shot in a spate of attacks over recent weeks according to a report from Bridwatch Ireland.
The birds, two of which died and one which sustained permanent injury, are believed to have been shot in three separate incidents.
The body of an adult female (pictured) was found by bird of prey expert Kevin Collins under the church ruin where a pair were nesting.
“This was the first year that Peregrines had nested at the church tower. I had been monitoring the site closely and was horrified when I found the female dead under the nest,” he said. “I immediately contacted the local NPWS conservation Ranger, who in turn informed the Gardaí.”
Mr Collins said that local people had taken a keen interest in the birds, and the local community was disgusted by what had happened.
In a separate incident an adult male falcon was found in a distressed state at another nest site nearby with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the wing. It was taken to the Animal Magic rehabilitation centre in Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, where it is being cared for, but the nature of the injury means the bird is unlikely to be returned to the wild.
The third incident was the discovery of the body of the adult male peregrine at the first nest site — again, shot dead. Both pairs had recently fledged young which were still dependent on the adult birds for food. The young birds have not been seen in the area since the incidents and it is unclear whether they managed to survive.
“These were unbelievably cruel acts, which appear to have been premeditated to do as much damage as possible,” commented John Lusby, Raptor Conservation Officer with Birdwatch Ireland. “Unfortunately negative sentiments towards birds of prey seem to remain amongst a very small minority, and we need to work towards changing these attitudes and enforcing the legislation where acts of illegal persecution such as these are committed.”
The National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Gardai are currently investigating the incidents.
Read the full story on the Birdwatch Ireland website.