A peregrine falcon has been put down by a vet after being found with a gunshot wound in County Down.
The injured bird was found by a member of the public by the side of the Craigaroddan Road in Portaferry at the weekend.
The vet who examined it discovered shotgun pellets in its wing.
Police have said they are investigating the incident and are appealing for anyone with information about it to contact them.
A PSNI spokesman said: "Birds of prey are protected by law within the Wildlife (NI) Order 1985 and are afforded the highest level of wildlife protection.
"Anyone with information regarding the persecution of protected wildlife should come forward as doing so will help make sure those responsible go before the courts."
In 2006, conservationists said they believed a "hit man" had been hired to shoot peregrine falcons in the Mourne mountains in County Down.
They suspected one or more racing pigeon enthusiast could have been responsible for hiring the gunman and said as many as 30 of the birds had been killed.