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Peregrine falcons shot in Co. Tipperary

Female peregrine found dead in Tipperary
This female peregrine was found shot dead in sout Tipperary in June. (Photo: Kevin Collins via Birdwatch Ireland)

Peregrine falcons nesting in south Tipperary have been deliberately shot in a spate of attacks over recent weeks according to a report from Bridwatch Ireland.

The birds, two of which died and one which sustained permanent injury, are believed to have been shot in three separate incidents.

The body of an adult female (pictured) was found by bird of prey expert Kevin Collins under the church ruin where a pair were nesting.

“This was the first year that Peregrines had nested at the church tower. I had been monitoring the site closely and was horrified when I found the female dead under the nest,” he said. “I immediately contacted the local NPWS conservation Ranger, who in turn informed the Gardaí.”

Mr Collins said that local people had taken a keen interest in the birds, and the local community was disgusted by what had happened.

In a separate incident an adult male falcon was found in a distressed state at another nest site nearby with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the wing. It was taken to the Animal Magic rehabilitation centre in Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, where it is being cared for, but the nature of the injury means the bird is unlikely to be returned to the wild.

The third incident was the discovery of the body of the adult male peregrine at the first nest site — again, shot dead. Both pairs had recently fledged young which were still dependent on the adult birds for food. The young birds have not been seen in the area since the incidents and it is unclear whether they managed to survive.

“These were unbelievably cruel acts, which appear to have been premeditated to do as much damage as possible,” commented John Lusby, Raptor Conservation Officer with Birdwatch Ireland. “Unfortunately negative sentiments towards birds of prey seem to remain amongst a very small minority, and we need to work towards changing these attitudes and enforcing the legislation where acts of illegal persecution such as these are committed.”

The National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Gardai are currently investigating the incidents.

Read the full story on the Birdwatch Ireland website.


  • found barn owl with wing damage 2night can anybody help

  • clearly pigeon men did this to the falcons to look after the racing rats.they should be put against a wall and shot the dirty scum bags.

  • Dr Andrew Kelly

    For those interested in wildlife crime, Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland has organised the Irish Wildlife Crime Conference There is an excellent programme of speakers involved in law enforcement and policy.

  • Emily Kane

    It’s a shame, really. How could this be to kill such beautiful birds?? People should take care of them, like those chemical plant staff did in poland – – that’s the attitude, I’m proud.

  • John kavanagh

    Good God you people need to open your eyes to the world around you these birds were not shot so their young could be sold to the “pet trade” they like the white tailed sea eagles were killed to “protect”other livestock.on almost any given day look on an irish classifieds ads site and you will find native raptors stuffed and mounted with no mention of c.i.t.i.e.s paper work, also sold are non native raptors i.e harris hawks, snowy owls ,etc
    no mention on the majority of ads of n.p.w.s licencing,.trapping cages for native finches and even occasionally native finches for sale unrung and clearly wild caught.This is just the tip of the ice berg time to return from la la land

    • Avatar photo

      Hi John, thanks for the comment.

      I never said they were shot so that people could take their young — just that it was a possibility. Young peregrines are highly sought after by falconers, and command a high price (some reports suggest up to GB£10,000 per bird) on the black market. There are plenty of documented cases of young chicks being taken from nests, like this one from the UK in June this year — so Emma Louise’s suggestion is not as implausible as you seem to think.

      About the only livestock a peregrine is going to bother is pigeons… so I doubt that protecting livestock is a key motivation here.

      I don’t think anyone here is anywhere near la la land — and I’m sure we all agree that much more needs to be done by the authorities to target raptor persecution and other wildlife crime in all its many guises.

      • john kavanagh

        You’ve just proven my point r.e authorities in Ireland ,not all livestock are mammals nor is all live stock kept on farms I am fully aware of the species a peregrine, falcon or tiercel is capable of taking as are racing pigeon fanciers.

        • Avatar photo

          I think we’re on the same page re. the authorities needing to take wildlife crime more seriously — not just for raptors but across the board.

          Of course it’s possible that pigeon fanciers committed these crimes… just as its possible that they were instigated by some other motive. The bottom line is that we’ll probably never know for sure. What’s important now is that the relevant authorities do everything they can to identify and prosecute the perpetrators… whoever they are… and make it clear that crimes like this simply won’t be tolerated.

  • Could the young birds from both nests have been taken so they can be sold into “pet trade”???

    • Avatar photo

      It is possible I guess Emma — although I think there are pretty strict regulations and licensing governing the sale and ownership of raptors to ensure that only captive-bred birds are sold to falconers. Don’t know all the details though, I must admit.

  • Dr Andrew Kelly

    Hi Calvin,

    I was manager of RSPCA Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre and Head of Wildlife Science. Our policy on wildlife rehabilitation was that if the animal could bot be returned to the wild it was humanely destroyed – keeping a possibly disabled wild-born animal in captivity is extremely stressful for the animal and its quality of life cannot be assured particularly for long-lived species such as a peregrine. In my opinion it is unethical and the bird should be euthanised if it can’t be released. We dealt with many birds of prey and often had unscrupulous falconers wanting to take on wild injured birds essentially either to train them or to introduce wild genes into their stock – they couldn’t do it any other way legally.

    Best wishes
    Andrew Kelly

    • Avatar photo

      I’d agree with you Andrew.

      I’m not sure what the folks at Animal Magic are planning for the injured bird… but from the Birdwatch Ireland news post it sounds as if they’re planning to keep it in captivity if it can’t hunt for itself in the wild. Let’s hope the wing heals and the injured bird can be released, or failing that that the people caring for it make the right decision for the welfare of the bird.

      • Any chance it could go to a sanctuary with a large enough enclosure to make it free less stressed but still be fed?? Just like other wild caught birds & animals taken for illegal pet trade etc. Then possibility could be to pair it with another injured bird but still a breeding pair to increase numbers somehow?? I know ppl are going to say how are they to feed young etc but a breeding program was started somehow before & young reared & released into wild so could these birds not be entered into this program or something similar??? Thanks

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