John Coles reports:Â Police on the Isle of Wight are investigating after a Peregrine falcon was shot and injured.Â The bird was discovered in a distressed state in the garden of a house in St Lawrence near Ventnor on Sunday, March 9th.Â
The homeowner contacted the Falconry Centre at Appledurcombe who captured the bird and took it to the vets. The vet confirmed the falcon had been shot in the back with an air pellet which was still lodged in its body.Â Shotgun pellets were also found in the birdâ€™s wings, but the wounds are thought to be historic as they had healed over. The bird is currently recovering at the Isle of Wight Falconry Centre at Appledurcombe.
Wildlife Officer PC Nicholas Massey from Ryde police station said:Â â€œThe peregrine falcon likes to feed on pigeons, so they often become the enemy of pigeon racers.Â Itâ€™s possible that this bird travelled many miles before becoming exhausted due to the lack of food.
â€œThe peregrine is afforded the highest degree of legal protection. This level of protection is essential to the conservation of the peregrine, which remains comparatively rare, and is extremely vulnerable to human activities (including continued illegal persecution). Once the peregrine population declines, it takes many years to recover. The peregrine is a valuable indicator species of the health of the environment, but only if its numbers are not kept artificially low. There are only about 1,400 breeding pairs in the UKâ€
Under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981:
It is an offence to intentionally take, injure or kill a peregrine or to take, damage or destroy its nest, eggs or young.Â
It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb the birds close to their nest during the breeding season.Â
Violation of the law can attract fines up to Â£5,000 per offence and/or a prison sentence of up to six months.
The Isle of Wight has two Police Wildlife Crime Officers (PWCO), Sergeant Richard Stapleton and PC Nick Massey, who have received extensive training for the role.
Sergeant Stapleton added:Â â€œTraditionally, wildlife crime in this country was either under-reported or dealt with on an ad-hoc basis, despite the fact that the law protecting our wildlife is complicated and vast. Many Acts of law have been passed over the years, such as the â€˜The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981,â€™ which offers protection to birds, mammals, reptiles, Amphibians and an array of rare plant life.
â€œThe role of the PWCO is to provide specialist knowledge to police colleagues and to work closely with other agencies such as the RSPCA, RSPB, Local Authority, Badger and Bat protection groups.
â€œTogether we aim to ensure our wildlife is protected from those members of our society who are either motivated to commit cruel acts or who may be unaware their actions can destroy natural and sometimes irreplaceable objects. The officers have volunteered for this training because they have a personal desire to protect wildlife in all forms for every body to enjoy.â€
PC Massey can also be emailed email@example.com
For advice or to report wildlife crimes please contact either Sergeant Stapleton or PC Massey on 0845 0454545 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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