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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 September 2005, 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK
Abandoned falcon prepares to fly
Peregrine falcon
There are only about 1,400 pairs of peregrine falcons in the UK
A young peregrine falcon which was deliberately poisoned is being prepared for release back into the wild.

The female bird and another chick were abandoned by their parents near Buckfastleigh in Devon in June.

Unfortunately her brother died. Tests show he had swallowed a highly toxic substance which police think was a deliberate poisoning.

The peregrine falcon has been building up strength after being helped back to health by a professional falconer.

Radio transmitter

Devon and Cornwall Police are still appealing for help in tracing the person who carried out the poisoning which could have been even more serious.

A pigeon which was discovered had also been smeared in a toxic pesticide.

Officers believe it was used as live bait to attract falcons, but it collapsed in a garden used by young children.

Inspector Nevin Hunter said there was a significant risk to the children.

"We had a pigeon covered with a grease that contained a poison called aldicarb", he said.

"This is extremely toxic and if the children involved had actually picked up the pigeon, they could have died quite easily."

Reward offered

It was thought that pigeon fanciers, whose birds are sometimes killed by falcons, may have been behind the illegal poisonings.

When the pigeon was released, a radio transmitter was put on its back by police to see if it could be traced to whoever poisoned it, but they had no success and the pigeon died several weeks later.

A reward of 1,000 leading to the conviction of whoever poisoned the birds remains on offer from the Devon Birdwatching and Preservation Society and the RSPB.

A 2002 survey found there were only 1,402 pairs of peregrine falcons in the UK.

Poison fear over falcon's absence
12 May 05 |  Hereford/Worcs
Falcons found poisoned at reserve
15 Jul 04 |  Scotland


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