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Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 08:37 GMT 09:37 UK
Peregrine falcon chicks stolen
Police preparing to tag the Peregrine chicks
Police abseilers found the nest empty
Police and the RSPCA are continuing their search for thieves who have stolen four peregrine falcon chicks from a nest on a Shropshire cliff.

The chicks were taken just before the birds were tagged.

They raided the nest despite a round-the-clock guard by members of the RSPCA asnd Shropshire Peregrine Watch Group.

Police and teh RSPCA arrived at the south Shropshire quarry on Wednesday to ring the young birds only to find they had been taken.

The RSPCA is offering a 1,000 reward for information that leads to the conviction of the thieves.

Peregrine falcon chicks
The chicks can fetch 1,000 each
Police protection officers were preparing to abseil down the 200-feet cliff to the nest when they realised something was wrong.

The chicks could not be traced.

It was a bitter blow for John Turner of the Shropshire Peregrine Watch group.

"We had four lovely chicks, I saw them myself in Sunday evening," he said.

"Mum was feeding them, Dad wasn't far away and we thought we were there until these ghastly events."

Peregrine chicks can fetch 1,000 on the blackmarket.

PC Steve Downing said: "There's absolutely no way that these chicks could've walked of this ledge on their own volition, it's just impossible.

"The real tragedy is that these birds should be breeding, they should be bringing up young, they should be a beautiful sight in the air."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Giles Latcham
"The peregrines will return, the fear is that so will the thieves"

Click here to go to BBC Shropshire
See also:

28 May 02 | England
29 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
22 Apr 02 | UK
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