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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 October 2006, 06:02 GMT 07:02 UK
Birds of prey killed deliberately
Peregrine falcon
This peregrine falcon died after being shot four times
Birds of prey have been deliberately targeted and killed in County Down, according to the RSPB.

The charity said that one peregrine falcon had been shot and at least one buzzard died from suspected poisoning.

The peregrine was found in a field near Sprucefield with four pellets lodged in its leg, wing and shoulder blade.

The bird had been ringed as part of a scientific study and was identified as having hatched earlier this year in County Antrim.

The buzzard was found in the Drumbanagher area, near Newry.

Claire Ferry, conservation officer at the RSPB, said she feared these two incidents "could just be the tip of the iceberg".

"There was a case of alleged persecution of peregrines in the Mourne Mountains earlier this year," she said.

"We encourage anyone who knows of any bird or wildlife crime to report incidents to the PSNI."

The USPCA's Stephen Philpott said an increasing number of attacks on protected species had been reported to his organisation.

"The poisoning is an example of an increasing number of such attacks on protected species reported to the USPCA," he said.

"Poisoned bait laid in our countryside is an indiscriminate killer and inflicts suffering and death on not just our native wildlife but domestic pets."

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