Protected peregrine falcon dies after being shot in Belper

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Belper peregrineImage source, Terry Walmsley
Image caption,
The peregrine falcon was found injured near a nest in East Mill, Belper

A male peregrine falcon has died after being shot.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust said the bird of prey was found injured near a nest at East Mill in Belper on Wednesday morning.

Director Tim Birch said it was found near its nest where "a pair of peregrines have bred" for many years.

Derbyshire Police confirmed it was investigating the death of the protected bird but no arrests had so far been made.

The falcon, which was four years old and ringed, was taken to a vet in Ashbourne.

On Thursday, one of the shotgun pellets was successfully removed but the bird died following surgery to remove a second lead pellet.

"I do find it hard to get into the mentality of somebody who'd shoot a peregrine. To me it's no different to shooting a wild elephant," Mr Birch said.

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He added there had been reports of peregrines being persecuted by gamekeepers in the north of Derbyshire because peregrines take grouse.

"The law is really, really clear," he said.

"And that is that peregrines are highly protected. It is a serious criminal offence to shoot and injure a wild peregrine."

There are thought to be 1,500 pairs of peregrine falcons in the UK and they are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

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