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Investigation launched after death of peregrine after Ipswich shooting

PUBLISHED: 14:46 01 August 2017 | UPDATED: 18:32 01 August 2017

The injured peregrine shortly before it died. Picture: RIVERSBROOK VETS' PRACTICE

The injured peregrine shortly before it died. Picture: RIVERSBROOK VETS' PRACTICE

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Police have been called in after a rare - and highly protected - peregrine falcon was shot near Ipswich Waterfront.

The x-ray of the peregrine, showing the pellet in the leg. Picture: RIVERSBROOK VETS' PRACTICEThe x-ray of the peregrine, showing the pellet in the leg. Picture: RIVERSBROOK VETS' PRACTICE

The young male was still alive when found at the weekend, but died before he could be treated for his injury. It is believed he starved to death because he was unable to hunt after being shot in the leg.

The bird, one of four juveniles that fledged earlier in the summer after being born at the top of The Mill tower on the Waterfront, was found on Saturday morning and taken to the Riversbrook vets’ practice in Cliff Lane.

It was then taken by a wildlife expert, but he was unable to save it.

He reported the shooting to the police because peregrines have the maximum protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

A peregrine falcon at Ipswich waterfront pictured by wildlife photographer John BoyleA peregrine falcon at Ipswich waterfront pictured by wildlife photographer John Boyle

Kay Lockwood, clinical director at Riversbrook, said the bird was emaciated and literally starved to death. An x-ray revealed a single shot or pellet in the leg.

She said: “It is so sad, these birds are magnificent and very rare.

“Our staff love to see them in the Waterfront area.”

Peregrines have been breeding at The Mill for about three to four years – the first breeding pair in the county for 200 years nested on the Orwell Bridge in 2008.

A peregrine falcon swoops down on its prey at Ipswich waterfront: Picture JOHN BOYLEA peregrine falcon swoops down on its prey at Ipswich waterfront: Picture JOHN BOYLE

Their main diet is pigeons caught on the wing – in flight they are the world’s fastest creature. That has meant they have been encouraged by businesses in the area which see the huge number of feral pigeons in the Waterfront area as a pest.

But it can bring peregrines into conflict with owners of racing pigeons.

Steve Piotrowski, from the Suffolk Ornithologists Group, said it had been quite a struggle to get peregrines established in Ipswich even though The Mill was the first building in the country to be designed with a nest box at its top.

He said: “This is very sad, not just because of the death of the bird but also because of the manner of its death.”

He did not know who was responsible for the shooting, but is urging anyone with information to contact the authorities.

He added: “The peregrines were encouraged to go to the Waterfront to keep the feral pigeon numbers in check and they have done that very effectively.”

“We don’t know who was responsible for this shooting – maybe someone will have something on CCTV in the area.”

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