A YOUNG peregrine falcon had to be euthanised after being shot and rushed to Lower Moss Wood Wildlife Hospital.

The peregrine was illegally shot on April 17, and police are now investigating.

The bird was found in the road at Aldford near Chester – part of the Grosvenor Estate – and taken to Lower Moss Wood Wildlife Hospital.

An X-ray by Northwich Vets, in Lostock Gralam, showed that it had a broken wing a piece of shotgun pellet in its chest.

Knowing it would not recover from its injuries, the vets took the sad decision to put the bird to sleep.

Knutsford Guardian:

Peregrine falcons are the world’s fastest birds, able to reach speeds of 200mph when diving for prey.

They nest on moorland, on cliffs and increasingly in towns and cities, usually producing two-four chicks each spring. There are thought to be around 1,500 pairs in the UK.

Like all birds of prey, peregrines are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. To kill or injure one is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine or up to six months in jail.

A Grosvenor Estate spokesman said: “We are shocked and saddened to hear that a peregrine falcon has been found illegally shot on a road in Aldford.

"We can confirm that this is not one of the peregrine falcons that is nesting in our clock tower at Eaton.

"As an organisation working hard to improve our environment, conservation and biodiversity to encourage birds of prey and other rare birds to nest across the Estate, we hope that the relevant authorities can quickly identify those culpable.”

Cheshire Police are now appealing to the public for information.

Only a month before, in March 2019, a raven was found shot dead near Delamere Forest, with police finding no leads following an investigation.

Jenny Shelton from the RSPB’s investigations unit said: "Most major cities will have their own ‘peregrine pair’, probably nesting on a cathedral spire or another tall building.

"Our lives and theirs are becoming increasingly entwined, which is a wonderful and very special thing.

"However there are still some who want to kill these magnificent birds. This young bird, which would have hatched last year so was just shy of its first birthday, was found in considerable distress with a piece of shot in its chest.

"Naturally, we want to find out who did this.

“There is an unseen culture of raptor persecution in the UK, whereby birds like peregrines, ravens and owls are being illegally killed due to a perceived threat to some people’s interests.

"If you have any information please contact the police or speak to us in confidence on 0300 999 0101."

PC Ged Gigg, wildlife officer for Cheshire Police, said: “Wildlife crime is a priority for us – my colleagues and I are dedicated to investigating crimes that affect our rural communities.

"I have been making extensive enquiries in the area and would urge anyone who has any information that may help with this investigation to contact police so that we can find those responsible.”

If you have any information relating to this incident, call Cheshire Police on 101 or go online here, quoting IML 376696.

Contact RSPB investigations on 01767 680551 or visit rspb.org.uk